I’m no health expert, and don’t like people who act like they are, when in reality, we should all be listening to the real experts when something like Coronavirus happens. What I do know, is that it’s obvious that this is not like anything we’ve seen in recent times, and it’s going to impact our daily, normal lives. We’ve already seen major sporting events cancelled, kids being told to do school online and many people being quarantined.
An impact of our daily lives also includes workers’ compensation cases. I don’t want to pretend that we know for sure everything that will happen to work comp cases from Coronavirus or COVID 19, but there are some that seem very likely to happen.
The first thing to know is that our economy is getting hammered so people are likely to get laid off and/or businesses will close. If you are working a job with restrictions due to a job injury and the business lets you go, you should receive TTD benefits until you have no restrictions at all. Losing your job would also likely make your case worth more money in the end.
You might also find yourself in a situation where you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID 19 and get asked to quarantine yourself. It should not take away your rights to benefits if you can’t go to the doctor for two weeks and get treatment. Usually failure to get physical therapy when it’s ordered or skipping an IME would make it so your benefits are cut off. That shouldn’t happen, in my opinion, with Coronavirus.
As of now you can get this illness from anyone who has been exposed. So if you get it from a fellow factory worker or teacher, then you probably couldn’t get benefits for it. On the other hand, if you are a doctor, nurse or other hospital worker who comes in to contact with many patients who have Coronavirus you are arguably at an increased risk of getting sick. So to me if you got sick then you should get Illinois work comp benefits. It’s no different than a healthcare provider who gets an infection from a sick patient.
If you travel for work and can prove that you acquired COVID from your travel, you should also get benefits. It may not be the type of thing you can 100% prove, but you can certainly show that more likely than not you did if you went to a place where there is a lot of confirmed cases like Seattle, Milan, etc.
But the biggest impact I think this will have is it seems likely we will eventually have building closures to prevent people from being in crowded spaces together. So it’s possible that you will need your day in court but not get it because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is closed. It’s not likely that we will have court via teleconference as an Arbitrator needs to be able to judge your credibility in person. I’m really worried that injured workers will get screwed over because they can’t get their day in court.
There are other concerns too and I’m sure some I haven’t thought of yet. This is of course all new and the impact will change and become more clear over time. As always, if you have any questions you can call me at 312-346-5578 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.