Illinois Work Comp And Long Haul Covid


Plexiglass dividers, hand sanitizer stations, contactless payment methods, hospital-grade disinfectants, and the list goes on. Despite the precautions companies have taken to protect their employees from contracting COVID-19, and despite employees’ best efforts to be safe and COVID-free, some employees will contract the coronavirus at work.

Depending on a person’s job, an employee can get COVID at work from a customer or client, from a coworker, or from work travel. Workers’ compensation should cover the medical care needed and wages lost of employees who get coronavirus at work. Under Illinois law, it’s generally presumed you got COVID at work if you are an essential worker such as a hospital employee.  Even without that, it’s very common to get Corona virus on the job due to exposure to maskless people on a regular basis.

For many people, bouncing back from COVID will take a few days to a few weeks. But others may suffer from long COVID.

People with long COVID (or long-haulers) experience serious symptoms for months (and possibly years) after they were first infected. They may test negative for coronavirus, but they continue to suffer from the effects of it.  No matter your situation, Illinois law requires the work comp insurance carrier to pay for your benefits for however long the problem lasts.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 75% of long-haulers had not been hospitalized for COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that the symptoms they continue to struggle with aren’t serious. The most common symptoms that long-haulers experience include fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, joint pain, chest pain or fast heartbeat, memory or concentration problems, poor sleep, muscle pain, headaches, and depression or anxiety.

Over one-third of the patients in a Mayo Clinic study had difficulty performing basic activities of daily living. A majority of the long-haulers had not returned to unrestricted work duty. Most patients required physical therapy, occupational therapy, or brain rehabilitation.

If these symptoms prevent you from working, you would be entitled to temporary total disability benefits. If your health problems cause you to need restrictions at work, your employer must provide them or compensate you. If your medical care is related to getting sick at work, workers compensation laws in Illinois require that 100% of the care be paid for.

While work comp laws have been around for over 100 years in Illinois, COVID cases are obviously newer. The principle of them is similar to other claims, but because they are new it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to fight them if they last long.  Bottom line is that it’s important to have an attorney who knows how to handle these cases and has trial experience. It can be the difference between winning and losing your case.

By Mike Helfand

Courtesy of Illinois Workers Compensation Law Blog

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