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Does Workers’ Compensation Cover the Coronavirus?COVID-19 – more commonly known as the coronavirus – has created a worldwide health crisis because of how quickly it spreads and the number of deaths it has caused. With the virus spreading in the U.S., many people are taking precautions to try to avoid catching it. Unfortunately, you will always be at some risk of contracting a virus when you are in public places, including your workplace. Could you file a workers’ compensation claim if you contracted the coronavirus at work? While there are jobs where you have a heightened chance of getting sick, you will qualify for workers’ compensation only if you can prove that your work caused you to contract the virus.

Occupational Diseases

Illinois workers’ compensation covers illnesses and diseases when an employee’s work puts them at greater risk than the general public of becoming sick. For instance, developing a lung disease may be an occupational disease if you were a construction worker who was exposed to asbestos. Workers’ compensation covers infectious diseases when your job requires you to come in contact with people who have the virus, such as healthcare workers and emergency responders. You could easily contract the coronavirus from someone at your office, but that does not mean that you were at any greater risk of catching the virus at work than you would have been at any other public place. If your job is at a doctor’s office, then you could claim that regularly interacting with patients created an increased risk.

Protecting Yourself

Knowing that you may not be able to collect workers’ compensation if you contract the coronavirus, it is critical that you try to protect yourself at work against the virus and prevent its spread:

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Breaking Down Illinois Vehicle Crash StatisticsThe Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reported that there were more than 319,000 crashes involving vehicles in the state in 2018. About 21 percent of those crashes resulted in injury, and less than one percent involved fatalities. If you are one of the unfortunate people who are injured in a vehicle accident, you may be able to recover personal injury compensation if another driver was at fault. You can also file a wrongful death claim if a loved one was killed in a vehicle accident caused by another driver’s negligence. You cannot predict whether you will be involved in a traffic crash, but IDOT’s 2018 Crash Facts and Statistics provides interesting information on when crashes most often happen, what types of crashes are most common, and who gets injured.

When Crashes Take Place

You might think that the majority of traffic crashes happen late at night on the weekends because that is when people are most likely to be drinking and driving. Actually, the two days of the week with the most crashes are Friday and Thursday, and more than two-thirds of crashes occur from 8 a.m. to 7:59 p.m. There are more people driving during the daytime on weekdays, and rush hour traffic causes numerous crashes. However, crashes involving death or severe injury were more likely to happen from 4 p.m. to 3:59 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Types of Crashes

The most common types of vehicle crashes were, in order:

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What Are the Exceptions to Barring Hearsay in Court?When determining a matter as important as whether someone is guilty of a crime, the court needs to have confidence that the evidence is reliable. That is why courts mostly reject the admission of hearsay in a criminal case. Hearsay is testimony in court that is based on a statement from someone who is not appearing in court. Courts often consider hearsay unreliable because the person who is testifying does not have first-hand knowledge of the information and the source of the statement is not available to be cross-examined. Without viewing testimony from the hearsay source, the jury cannot get a sense of whether the source is reliable. However, the Illinois Rules of Evidence have several exceptions that allow for the admission of hearsay evidence. The exceptions fall under two categories:

  1. The Availability of the Declarant Is Immaterial: This means that the hearsay source’s testimony in court is not necessary to establish the information as reliable. For instance, a person is considered unlikely to have lied if they said something that would incriminate themselves or go against their self-interest. The source’s state of mind may also be relevant. A person may speak impulsively when they are excited, which means they may not have had time to consider lying. Finally, hearsay based on a matter of public record is considered reliable because the information can be verified.
  2. The Declarant Is Unavailable: The hearsay source may be unable to testify because they are dead, ill or suffering memory loss. Others may be exempted from having to testify, such as the alleged victim in a child abuse case. Just because a source is unable to testify does not mean that the court has to allow the hearsay as evidence. Statements from a previous trial may be allowed if the defendant had a chance to cross-examine the declarant at that trial. Courts will consider dying declarations, which are statements from someone who is deceased that were made when they knew they were dying. The court may also allow hearsay evidence from an unavailable witness if it believes the defendant committed wronging against the defendant with the intent to prevent testimony.

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Criminal Defense Attorney

A judge in a criminal case may have the discretion to decide whether testimony is hearsay and, if so, whether that hearsay falls under the exceptions. A McHenry County criminal defense lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will contest unreliable or hearsay evidence presented by the prosecution in your case. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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How Do You Continue Your Health Insurance After Divorce?Divorce changes your life in many small ways that you do not consider when you start the process. Health insurance is a good example of this because spouses are commonly on the same insurance plan. You have little to worry about if your spouse was on your employer’s insurance plan. Your children can remain on your family plan, or you can switch to an individual plan if you do not have children. If you were on your spouse’s insurance plan, you may be able to receive insurance through your own employer. Your divorce makes you immediately eligible to enroll in or change your insurance plan. If health insurance through work is not an option, you have other options that you need to consider.

Continuation Coverage

Illinois law allows you to stay on your former spouse’s health insurance for a limited time. If you are younger than 55 at the time of your divorce, you can continue the coverage for two years. If you are older than 55, you can continue the coverage until you are eligible for Medicare. There are several requirements for receiving continuation coverage:

  • Your spouse’s insurance must be a group plan.
  • You have 30 days after your divorce judgment to notify your spouse’s employer of your intention to continue coverage.
  • You must pay the same premium as you would if you were an employee on the plan.

Continuation coverage is only a temporary solution and may be difficult to afford if you have a low income. However, it prevents a gap in your health insurance coverage and buys you time to come up with a long-term solution.

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Creditors Cannot Touch Your Workers’ Compensation SettlementSuffering an injury at work can put you in an immediate financial bind. Although you can receive disability benefits if you are unable to work, those benefits are only two-thirds of what you normally make. Your expenses also go up if you need continued medical treatment for your injury. Without adequate health insurance to cover your treatment, you could end up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to doctors. Injured workers rely on receiving workers’ compensation benefits in order to pay these expenses, but sometimes the debts pile up too fast before the worker can receive payment. If you file for bankruptcy, will you be able to keep your workers’ compensation benefits? A recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling confirmed that money awarded or settled upon in a workers’ compensation case is protected during bankruptcy from the healthcare providers that treated the injuries related to the workers' compensation case.

Protection for Your Compensation

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act includes a section stating that creditors cannot seize a debtor’s workers’ compensation award or settlement. Illinois and federal courts have long recognized that this section of the law works as an exemption when someone files for bankruptcy. The total benefits received in a workers’ compensation case can be used to pay for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Missing wages
  • Wage differential compensation
  • Vocational training

Recent Case

In the case of In re Elena Hernandez, a woman had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2016. Among her debts were $138,000 she owed to three medical practices that had treated an injury related to an ongoing workers’ compensation case. The woman listed her pending workers’ compensation claim as an asset and estimated its value at $31,000. She reached a settlement with her employer for approximately that amount two days after filing for bankruptcy. The three medical providers argued that the workers’ compensation settlement should not be exempt from them because of amendments made to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act in 2005. The revisions created new fee schedules for injuries and limited what providers could collect from employers. The providers claimed that the revisions created a new exception to the part of the act that exempted workers' compensation settlements from creditors.

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