Following the withdrawal of Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s emergency ruling, Governor Pritzker signed H.B. 2455 into law on June 5. The purpose of the bill is to provide death benefits for first responders presumably infected with COVID-19 on duty.
The bill addresses death benefits eligibility for firefighters who die as a result of exposure/contraction of the virus. Furthermore, the first responder must have contracted the virus between March 9, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The date of contraction can either be the date of diagnosis or when the individual was unable to work due to symptoms that were then later diagnosed as a COVID-19 infection.
The bill also amends the workers’ Occupational Disease Act for claims related to COVID-19. In doing so, it opens the door for Fire Districts to refute a claim under the following grounds:
- The employee was working from home for at least 14 days prior to the injury claim.
- They can provide proof that the employee was exposed by another source outside the workplace.
- They can demonstrate the workplace was following current public health guidelines for two weeks prior to the employee claimed to contract the virus.
If a Fire Protection District has been responding to calls around COVID-19 daily, any of these grounds may be difficult to prove.
It is critical that you make sure to document everything.
Generally speaking, if a district experiences a spike in workers’ compensation claims, it is reasonable to expect the workers’ compensation insurance company to increase rates. We recommend sharing any newly adopted loss control or safety measures with your broker, which should help mitigate future rate increases.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.