COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in Amazon

Amazon warehouse workers know as well as anyone that, when an employer expects workloads and deadlines to be met by too few workers, the employer creates an environment with a clear potential for injury. If you’ve been one of those warehouse workers and you’ve suffered an injury on the job, you should waste no time in reaching out to an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer to see what benefits may be available to you.

On April 7, 2021, a group of Amazon workers at one of the mega-corporation’s Chicago-area distribution centers staged a walkout to protest working conditions at the facility. According to the workers, the employer has failed to fully staff the center, which has led to more worker injuries.

A report by the Chicago Sun-Times indicated that the walkout included dozens of Amazon warehouse workers employed at the company’s facility in the Gage Park neighborhood. Also joining the demonstration was Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, WTTW reported.

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Amazon is in the news again and it isn’t good news for some of the company’s warehouse workers in the Chicago area, according to groups that advocate on behalf of those workers. Recent reports say that many workers are being presented with a dismal choice: lose their jobs in the middle of this pandemic-fueled recession or else agree to work 10½-hour-long graveyard “megacycle” shifts at a new warehouse. This comes even as past research has shown that longer shifts often can lead to greater health and safety problems for workers. If you’ve been hurt at your warehouse job in or around Chicago, whether or not you were working exceptionally long shifts, you should take the time to contact a knowledgeable Illinois workplace injury attorney to get the legal advice you need.

According to a report from Motherboard, the aforementioned offer came on January 25 to the workers at Amazon’s McKinley Park warehouse known as DCH1. According to the reports, Amazon informed the workers that the company was closing down DCH1, which meant that those workers had two options: accept work at a new Chicago-area warehouse or else be terminated. The catch was, however, that the positions at the new warehouse involved megacycle work, which meant working four days per week, from 1:20 am to 11:50 am.

The situation facing DCH1 warehouse workers isn’t unique. According to the Motherboard report, Amazon “has been quietly transitioning warehouse workers at delivery stations nationwide to the ‘megacycle’ shift in recent months.”

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Recently, more and more reports have been published pointing out the high risk of injury that the men and women who deliver Amazon packages face. Now, the Denver Post has shined a light on yet another wrinkle in this story: the particularly high risk of harm faced by new Amazon delivery drivers, including from slip-and-fall injuries, dog-bite injuries and muscle strain injuries. If you are (or were) an Amazon delivery driver and got hurt on (or as a result of) the job, you should waste no time in contacting an experienced Chicago injury attorney about your legal options.

New employees in any field tend to be the most likely to suffer on-the-job injuries. One workers’ compensation insurer reported to the Post that, generally, 41% of the claims it receives involve a worker in his/her first year at that job. For delivery drivers generally, that number is higher, at 58%. For the contractors who deliver Amazon packages, that number was much, much higher… standing at 93%!

Those workers’ compensation claims reflected that Amazon package deliverers were most likely to injure their ankles, followed by knees, lower backs, heads and then feet, according to the Post.

As an Amazon warehouse worker, there are certain risks that come with the job. One thing that you, as an Amazon worker, should not have to accept as “just part of the job” is being placed at an unreasonable risk of exposure to coronavirus. If there is any slight degree of good news, it is that, if you’re placed in that kind of situation, the law may provide you with a remedy though civil action. If that sounds like your workplace circumstances, be sure to act without delay by contacting an experienced Chicago workplace injury attorney.

Reports have come in from Amazon warehouses around the county about workers at risk, and even some who have died. D.G. was an Amazon warehouse worker in Sacramento who had been injured at work. D.G.’s doctor’s orders following the injury stated he was required to remain seated at work at all times. Rather than allow D.G. to remain home during the height of the pandemic and governmental stay-at-home orders, Amazon continued to require D.G. to be present at the warehouse, according to a CNet report.

While at work, he asserted that he had his employer’s blessing to use the internet on his phone, text his wife and chat with other employees stationed nearby. He said he was given no work to do and received no supervision, but he was required to be at the Amazon warehouse’s breakroom 10 hours a day, every day. According to the report, his employer instructed to “sit there watching Netflix if I wanted to,” as long as he was sitting in that room.

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A multi-vehicle chain-reaction accident involving an Amazon semi-truck left two people dead in Houston, Texas shortly before Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, headlines and stories like this are popping up far too often. Amazon trucks are becoming involved in an ever-increasing number of accidents… accidents causing major injuries and sometimes fatalities. If you are injured in Illinois by an Amazon truck, or by a truck driver delivering items for Amazon, you may be entitled to compensation from the massive corporation. To find who owes you damages for the harm you’ve suffered, reach promptly and speak to a knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorney about your circumstances.

In the Houston incident, the accident, which occurred in the wee hours of the morning, initially wrecked a Mazda, a Chevrolet pickup truck and a Lincoln SUV, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Mazda’s driver and a passenger in the Lincoln exited their vehicles. As they did so, “an Amazon 18-wheeler plowed through the crash site,” according to the report, killing them. A third person, a “Good Samaritan” who had stopped to help, only escaped the big rig’s path by jumping off the freeway overpass, landing some 10-15 feet below, whereupon he suffered serious injuries, according to ABC 13. The ABC report also indicated that the roads were rain-slickened at the time of the crash.

In late January, an Amazon Prime truck headed northbound on I-77 north of Charlotte abruptly crashed into and through a guardrail at roughly 1:00 a.m. Fortunately, in this accident, no one was seriously injured, as the truck collided with no other vehicles and the roughly 13,000 packages that spilled from the trailer generally landed on the grass to the east of the northbound lanes. WSOC, which covered the accident, stated that it was not known “yet what caused the truck to go off the interstate.”

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Many news reports in the past have covered the intense pressure Amazon drivers face to meet delivery deadlines during the winter holiday season, and the safety issues those demands trigger. New reports, however, are highlighting a uniquely 2020 problem: a coronavirus-fueled world where every day is like late December for Amazon drivers. These intense demands and pressures on Amazon’s fleet of drivers has the potential to cause injuries – both to the drivers themselves and also to the other drivers Amazon’s drivers encounter on the expressways and roadways. If you’ve been injured in such an accident, you may potentially have a right to pursue compensation from Amazon itself. Be sure to contact an experienced Chicago accident attorney about the facts surrounding your injuries.

One example of this occurred just an hour away from Chicago. On Dec. 22 of last year, a motorcyclist was involved in a terrible accident, according to a nwi.com report. Allegedly, an Amazon driver, L.H. excited a residence and improperly failed to yield to oncoming traffic. Her van collided with T.D.’s motorcycle, critically injuring T.D., according to the lawsuit he filed.

T.D.’s accident happened near the peak of what is typically Amazon’s busiest season for deliveries. The motorcyclist’s lawsuit alleged that Amazon’s “unreasonable and unsafe demands” placed on drivers contributed to the catastrophic crash. According to the nwi.com report, T.D. asserted in his court case that Amazon delivery drivers “often have to deliver upwards of 250 packages a day, which leaves less than two minutes per package during an eight-hour shift.”

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It is no secret that workers at Amazon distribution centers work in frequently intolerable conditions, even before the onslaught of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  Amazon itself released data revealing that injury rates at one of its warehouses were three times the industry average.[1]  An investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting reviewed injury records from 23 of the company’s 110 fulfillment centers showed that the rate of serious injuries was 9.6 per 100 full-time workers – compared to an industry average of 4 per 100.  Workers have described being on their feet for 12 hour shifts, walking a total of 15 to 20 miles in a day.[2]  In at least one warehouse, there have been reports of a vending machine carrying over the counter pain medication for workers.[3]  Workers have complained that every single activity is monitored and tracked, and that they are subject to discipline for such basic activities as using the bathroom or getting a drink of water, and that supervisors receive reports of employees’ bathroom time.[4]  Beyond the Orwellian tracking of employees’ every single activities, Amazon expects its workers to work at a grueling pace, and workers have complained of back sprains, bulging discs, joint inflammation, and chronic pain.[5]


Set against these already disturbing working conditions is the fact that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in some of Amazon’s warehouses.  As of May 21, at least 8 Amazon workers nationwide had tragically passed away from COVID-19, including one in Waukegan, Illinois.[6]  Amazon has not disclosed how many workers have tested positive.[7]  In fact, a Vice President at Amazon Web Services resigned his position after he alleged that the company was “firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19.”[8]  Meanwhile, despite these deplorable working conditions that COVID-19 has worsened, Amazon has seen a surge in business due to people staying at home; this means that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could be a trillionaire by 2026.[9]

Amazon workers getting hurt and sick at work is not a remote or faraway problem – Amazon has several facilities throughout Illinois and especially in Chicagoland – such as in Joliet, Edwardsville, Wood Dale, Naperville, Monee, and others.  These workers are friends, family, neighbors, who deserve to have a safe and healthy place to work, where they are not treated like machines and are not at risk for contracting a deadly disease.

Out of an over-abundance of caution during this pandemic, the government and many health care facilities across Chicago have halted many elective surgical procedures. Presumably, this was done to help prevent hospitals from being over-stressed with too many patients and not enough resources. Nationally, one in five doctors have had their pay cut since the novel Coronavirus crisis began.(Source via Business Insider) Some have even been laid off. The first hit to the health care industry was for elective and outpatient surgeries, which is not only hurting the orthopedic, pain management, and gastroenterology fields, but other fields like oncology and vascular surgery are seeing procedures pushed back. The next group of doctors that have been hit hard due to the pandemic is internal medicine. With so many fewer patients afraid to go to a doctor’s office, the only way internal medicine doctors have been able to survive is to use different forms of telemedicine, especially to follow up and monitor patients who have Covid-19 symptoms. (read more on CNBC) The next wave of people to be harmed by the slowdown is the medical staff. Without elective procedures, nurses, CNA’s, medical assistants, physician assistants, and various other health care workers are experiencing the same problems. It is obvious to most people that these health care cut-backs are going to cause another major hit to the national economy. (read more at The Washington Post)

Like many frontline workers in Illinois, most doctors simply ask for the basic personal protective equipment so that they can safety do their job. It is no wonder that they also ask that their staff members get the same. In reality, local hospitals have fallen short, which has gotten numerous doctors, nurses, and staff members sick with Covid-19. Health care workers contracting this disease due to their job duties have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim in Chicago as well as any other part of Illinois. It is clear that Chicago has been the hardest hit city in the state when it comes to Covid-19. This means that as patients fill hospital and nursing home beds, the number of sick health care workers also increases. The first important thing that must be remembered in any workers’ compensation case involving a health care worker is that we do not have to prove that the employer was at fault. Illinois has a no fault workers compensation system. This makes it easier for an employee to recover. The second important thing that must be remembered in any case involving a sick or injured health care worker is that Illinois has a rebuttable presumption for any Covid-19 case for an essential worker. This means that a health care worker who contracts Covid-19 is presumed to have fallen ill on the job. (source via Chicago Tribune) While an employer can still fight a claim like they usually do when they get in touch with their insurance carrier, having an evidentiary presumption gives health care workers an advantage in recovering benefits like lost and future wages, medical bills, and an award or settlement that is proportionate to a person’s average weekly wage. What’s more, a family of a deceased worker can recover benefits.

Undoubtedly, the insurance industry is fearful that doctors and nurses will exercise their rights and file claims since there will be permanent impairment to lung, kidney, liver, and cardiac function with mild cases just like there were with the original SARS outbreak in 2003-2004. The reason that the insurance industry is so concerned about this legal development has to do with the possibility that doctors and nurses will cost the insurance industry billions by filing claims since their wage loss is so significant. However, given that insurance companies will deceive, dupe, and trick injured individuals into taking low settlements or making a person believe that they have no claim, it is expected that the health care industry will make a record number of workers compensation claims in 2020. As we have for over 60 years, Katz Friedman is investigating injuries caused on the job and will fight to help obtain full, fair, and proper compensation for those workers as it is their right under the laws of our state. You may call us at anytime at our toll free number, 1-800-444-1525 or simply click on “Contact” above. We answer our telephone 24 hours a day. When making decisions regarding a injuries and death from Covid-related injuries, it is wise to consult an attorney to protect your interests because it is clear that the employer already has their lawyers working on this issue to defeat your claim.

An article in the New York Times on April 22 noted that “outbreaks [of Covid-19] are mounting in processing plants and factories in Midwestern towns.” (Source)

We have been representing injured workers from these plants, factories and towns for over 50 years. We have seen ancient machines that were built without thought of the safety of the workers who operated those machines give way to more modern machines that may create an incrementally safer workplace but have automated away many of the jobs the grandparents and parents of today’s workers used to hold. We have seen jobs that were brutal and repetitive become modified to allow rotation so workers do not do exactly the same thing for their entire shift.

This is part of the cycle of manufacturing. When things are new they are engineered for profit and efficiency. After many workers suffer and many dollars are paid in claims the companies re engineer and try to come up with processes that are safer for union workers and less costly for the executives and insurance companies.

We have rallied around our first responders who are protecting us against Covid-19 and who maintain order and protect our homes and lives. Many houses have homemade signs in their windows expressing solidarity with police, fire and healthcare workers. We join in that sentiment and are aware of the risks those workers take every day. However, they are not the only ones who are continuing to work and continuing to put their lives at risk.

There is a wide range of “essential workers” who continue to provide service, continue to risk their lives by making contact with other humans as we attempt to live normal lives in the wake of the pandemic. The Governor has designated the following workers as essential:

  •  Healthcare and Public Health Operations (includes businesses in the supply chain)
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