The spread of COVID-19 across Illinois has resulted in many work-related infection claims. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 that was related to your workplace conditions, you can pursue a potentially compensable claim under the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act.
The employer’s defense to an alleged work-related COVID-19 claim likely will be that there was no greater risk of infection to the worker at the workplace than there is to the general public. But from news reports and health agency investigations, we know that certain workplace occupations and industries (for example, meat packers) do face exposure to a greater risk than the rest of the general public.
For the protection of workers, the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act provides:
“A disease shall be deemed to arise out of the employment if there is apparent to the rational mind, upon consideration of all the circumstances, a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and the occupational disease. The disease need not to have been foreseen or expected but after its contraction it must be apparent to have had its origin or aggravation in a risk connected with the employment to have flowed from that source as a rational consequence.” 820 ILCS 310/1(d).
But the Illinois Occupational Disease statute does not require direct proof of causation. Sperling v. Industrial Commission, 129 Ill.2d.416, 421, (1989). A worker’s medical expert opinion that an accident “could have” or “might have” caused an injury may be sufficient. Also, a chain of events suggesting a causal connection may suffice to prove causation. Consolidation Coal Co. v. Industrial Commission, 265 Ill.App.3d 830, 839 (1994).
Here at Grazian & Volpe, we’ve already begun receiving clients with workplace transmissions of COVID-19. If you believe you were infected with COVID-19 in your workplace, we know what to do and we’re here to help you. Contact us by phone at 773.838.8100 or fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced attorney.