On April 24, 2020, Judge John M. Madonia blocked an Emergency Amendment to the Illinois Administrative Code that would have created a rebuttable presumption of work-related COVID-19 exposure for any “first responder” or “front-line worker” seeking benefits as a result of “exposure” to the COVID-19 virus during the state of emergency. Thereafter, on April 27, 2020, the new rule was withdrawn by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission based on stated concerns about the cost of defending a challenge to the rule that had been filed by a consortium of manufacturers and retailers.
As of April 30, 2020,
does not yet have a law creating a presumption of work-relatedness for the diagnosis of COVID-19. However, national trends suggest that such legislation may only be a matter of time.
Illinois’ proposed amendment to its workers’ compensation rules is a part of a rapidly expanding national trend.
Many states across the country have either already passed or are already considering laws creating sweeping evidentiary presumptions for COVID-19 workers’ compensation coverage. These laws present both practical and legal problems for employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers and may also ultimately frustrate their intended beneficiaries, front-line workers suffering from COVID-19. For workers, the rush to legislate has resulted in bills that are overbroad, covering employees with no special risk of exposure such as police dispatchers and hospital administrators, and under broad, often leaving out other jobs with high exposure such as bus drivers and store clerks. For employers and insurers, these laws radically shift the burden of proof on existing policies and may create enormous liabilities. Challenges to these laws will need to be resolved by the courts - these bills may not withstand constitutional challenges based on retroactivity, the takings clause, the contracts clause, and due process.
Chartwell Law represents the interests of insurers and employers, as such, we continue to continue to monitor the legal landscape. If you have any questions about issues associated with COVID-19, our attorneys are available to help. Please contact your Chartwell Law attorney or email us at Covid19WC@chartwelllaw.com.