Do You Think You Were Exposed to COVID-19 at Work?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Do You Think You Were Exposed to COVID-19 at Work?

If you are one of the lucky ones still working during the COVID-19 pandemic because you work at a business deemed “essential,” that can be a good thing, as you have income. If you believe you contracted COVID-19 at work, that’s a bad thing, however, and can be costly in many ways. After you get treatment, you might wonder if you are eligible for workers’ compensation for your injuries. That’s a tricky question and likely will depend on what your job is. It is probably a good idea to consult with a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.

Many Governments Are Wrestling With the Question of Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Work-Related COVID Infections

The federal government is generally not treating COVID-19, also called the coronavirus, as a work-related illness or injury simply because you contract it at work. However, the government is making an exception for employees whose work intrinsically requires them to undergo routine and prolonged exposure to potential exposure to the virus. This includes medical personnel, first responders, and law enforcement personnel. Some states, including Washington, California, and Ohio, are following the federal example. Most states have not announced a policy yet.

Illinois, at the moment, is among the states that have not announced a policy. However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has suspended normal operations for the entire month of April, meaning it will not be hearing any cases or mediation for a while. Whether the commission announces a policy regarding COVID-19 coverage remains to be seen.

However, Illinois workers’ compensation law might make it difficult for any but a very few kinds of employees to recover compensation. Illinois law, like that in many states, requires that there must be a risk inherent in the employment itself rather than a risk shared by the general public. It seems that the fact that the coronavirus can be contracted by anyone, anywhere would make claiming workers’ compensation coverage a pretty long reach. Simply proving you caught the virus at work would be extremely difficult. However, no policy has been established yet, and so the question remains open. Illinois could, like the federal government and several states, decide to make exceptions for employees in particular occupations.

In the meantime, you should encourage your employer to take certain precautions to limit the risk of contracting the coronavirus. If they are not already doing so, your employer should: 

  • Encourage sick employees to not come into work, even if they haven’t tested positive for COVID-19
  • Separate sick employees from healthy employees;
  • Enforce frequent hand-washing
  • Perform frequent cleaning of workspaces with substances that kill the virus
  • Advise employees about precautions to take before engaging in work travel.

We are in uncertain times on many fronts. Answers won’t be easy, but if you believe you contracted COVID-19 at work, talk to a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.

If You Need a Chicago Workers Compensation Attorney, Contact the Lawyers of Malman Law

If you contracted COVID-19 and believe you contracted it at work, you should consult with a Chicago workers compensation attorney. The lawyers of Malman Law are here to assist you. You can reach us at (312) 629-0099 or through our website.

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