Any injury sustained in the course of performing workplace duties can technically be covered by workers’ compensation, but whether you actually receive benefits depends on your specific situation. In claims involving infectious diseases—such as the novel coronavirus disease—there are many obstacles to overcome when seeking compensation.
Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases
When it comes to occupational disease in Illinois, there are two laws that could potentially apply: the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Diseases Act. The latter will typically apply in the case of illness, though it does use rates based on those established by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
In order to qualify as an occupational disease, and therefore be compensable, a coronavirus infection must occur as a result of your employment. The Occupational Diseases Act states that a disease can be considered to arise out of your employment duties if a clear causal connection between your work conditions and the disease can be established. If no causal relationship can be shown, then it won’t qualify.
Jobs Most Likely to Receive Compensation
During this point in time, people who are out working in the general public will be more likely to recover benefits than those who are working at home or in settings with minimal exposure to others. With that in mind, the following workers would stand the best chance of receiving benefits if they contract the virus while on the job.
Nurses, doctors, and others in the healthcare industry—and particularly those who are currently treating coronavirus patients—are among those most at risk of contracting the virus in the course of their duties. The causal relationship between employment and contracting the disease would be very easy to demonstrate, so if you’re a healthcare professional treating virus patients and you get sick, you’d most likely be able to receive benefits.
Cleaning and maintenance workers
Cleaning personnel and maintenance workers are generally considered to be essential personnel at businesses that are currently in operation. Being out working in areas that may see high levels of traffic, such as grocery stores or hospitals, could make a coronavirus-related workers’ compensation claim easier to pursue.
Grocery and retail workers
Many stores are open since they are considered to provide essential services. Grocery and retail stores see high levels of traffic, and the risk of exposure for employees is real. As such, if you’re an employee in a store, you would have a viable claim if you contract the virus.
Getting Compensation for COVID-19
In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits for coming down with the coronavirus, you would need to show that you fell ill as a result of your employment duties. In occupations or scenarios where that causal relationship is difficult to establish, it would be less likely that your claim would go through.