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Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer coronavirus COVID-19The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Stay-at-home orders have required many people to minimize contact with others in order to avoid becoming infected or spreading the disease. However, many workers at “essential businesses” have been required to risk exposure, and doctors and nurses, as well as employees at grocery stores, restaurants, and other important areas of the economy, have bravely placed themselves in harm’s way to ensure that others receive the care and services they need. Even when precautions are taken to minimize the risk of infection for these workers, some have contracted COVID-19, and they and their families are likely wondering about whether they will be able to receive workers’ compensation or if they have other legal options to address the harm they have experienced.

Recent Lawsuits Demonstrate the Difficulties Faced by Workers

Many employees of essential businesses are concerned about the possibility that they may be exposed to the coronavirus, become ill, or pass the infection to family members. In some cases, workers have experienced significant harm or died after contracting COVID-19. On April 6, 2020, the estate of a man who worked at a Walmart Supercenter in Cook County filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart after the man died from complications related to COVID-19. The lawsuit alleges that Walmart acted negligently in a variety of ways, including failing to properly disinfect the store, provide employees with personal protective equipment, follow social distancing guidelines, or evaluate and respond to employees who showed symptoms of infection.

In another lawsuit, a nurse who worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital claimed that she was wrongfully terminated by her employer after raising concerns about the masks provided to hospital employees. She stated that she was fired after bringing her own N95 mask to work and informing other employees that the masks distributed to employees by the hospital were less effective in preventing COVID-19 infections.

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