Illinois Workers Compensation Death Benefits
Did you suffer an injury while on the job, or are you the victim of long-term exposure to toxic chemicals or materials at work?
If so, you have the legal right to file a Workers Compensation claim to receive benefits through your employer's mandatory insurance coverage.
The Illinois personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, have a comprehensive understanding of pursuing and resolving workplace injury compensation claims. Let our legal team carefully review your medical records and help you file a claim for workers' benefits.
A workers compensation attorney can help determine if a party's negligence caused your damages.
Illinois Laws Concerning Workers Compensation Death Benefits
Worker's Compensation insurance coverage provides funding for hospitalization costs and medical expenses if the worker suffered injuries or became ill from their job. The employee's death resulting from illness or injury typically qualifies a surviving spouse or family member with "death benefits."
Every state, including Illinois, mandates how insurers will cover an employee's work-related injury or death.
The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission requires death benefits to include:
- Financial support for the decedent's loved ones, including dependent parents, surviving spouse, children, or family member
- Funeral and burial expenses
Potential beneficiaries could file for worker's compensation death benefits if their loved one died from a workplace-related illness or injury. However, the death did not necessarily have to occur at the worksite, only when the employee performed duties in their working capacity.
If there is no eligible beneficiary (dependent), the worker's compensation death benefits will likely be given to the decedent's estate.
In Illinois, potential beneficiaries for the decedent's Worker's Compensation death benefits include:
- Surviving spouse
- Child under eighteen
- Full-time adult children currently enrolled as a full-time student
- Children and adult children of any age with mental or physical incapacitation
Illinois pays death benefits to beneficiaries through weekly payments. Typically, the amount provided is equal to two-thirds of the decedent's average weekly wage, based on the 52 weeks prior to death. However, there are the minimum and maximum limitations established by the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission.
The Worker's Compensation death benefit will cease paying after twenty-five years, or when the beneficiaries receive $500,000, whichever comes first. Illinois also provides Worker's Compensation death benefits up to $8000 to cover funeral expenses.
Any eligible family member or the surviving spouse might be entitled to receive a lump-sum payment through an Illinois Worker’s Compensation settlement.
Third-Party Liability Claim – Receiving Additional Workplace Injury Benefits
The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission mandates that every employer, with few exceptions, carry Workers Compensation insurance coverage for their injured employees. The no-fault coverage pays for hospital costs, medical expenses, therapy, rehabilitation, and part of the injured employee's wages.
There is no requirement to prove who caused the accident to receive benefits or if their injury resulted from their employer's negligence. However, some accidents result from an individual or business's negligent or intentional actions other than the employer.
An injured employee could hold third parties civilly liable for their work-related injuries if the harm were caused by:
- Company Vehicle Accident – An employee driving the company vehicle during work hours when the accident occurred could file a civil lawsuit against the driver responsible for causing the crash.
- Defective Product – Workers injured by defective machinery, device, or tool might be able to sue the product manufacturer, distributor, or retailer for their injuries. The malfunctioning component may cause an electrical shock, crushing injury, or catastrophic damage.
- Construction Site Injury – Typically, construction sites have numerous general contractors, subcontractors, vendors, visitors, and others that may disregard maintaining safety, leading to an employee's injuries or wrongful death.
- Property Owner Liability – Workers can suffer catastrophic injuries while working on another's property, including being involved in a car accident, being bitten by a dog, or exposed to hazardous conditions.
- Exposure to Toxic or Chemical Substances – In an instant, or over a lifetime at work, the employee may be exposed to dangerous substances in highly toxic chemicals leading to severe injuries, medical conditions, and wrongful death.
Worker's Compensation Death Benefits
Did you lose a family member in a wrongful death associated with a workplace disease or injury? Family members including totally dependent parents, children, and the surviving spouse may be entitled to death benefits through the Illinois Workers Compensation system.
The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission offers specific surviving family members a death benefit through the program to recoup lost financial support. Every case is unique, as are the eligibility requirements to receive compensation death benefits.
While the rules are different between localities, a death benefit is usually available to family members related to the deceased by marriage or blood. In most circumstances, the beneficiaries are entitled to receive the death benefits for twenty-five years or up to $500,000, whichever is greater.
However, the Illinois Workers Compensation death benefits process is long and tedious. By the time the case is resolved, weeks, months, or years have passed. However, the surviving spouse is entitled to death benefits that include funeral and burial expenses and wages based on the average weekly wage.
Typically, the average weekly wage is determined by the average pay of the decedent and the 52 weeks prior to the accident or incident that claimed their death. Usually, the rules change if the spouse remarries.
According to the Worker's Compensation Act, a surviving spouse is entitled to death benefits paid in a lump sum equal to two years of the compensation amount.
Most states, including Illinois, extend the eligibility of Workers Compensation death benefits to the decedent's children up to the age of 18 and adult children enrolled in a qualifying vocational or educational program.
Determining Eligibility for Worker's Compensation Death Benefits
Only certain contributing factors to a loved one's death qualify surviving family members receiving Workers Compensation death benefits. Generally, death benefits are available to the estate, surviving spouse, or other family members if the decedent died from a work-related illness or injury.
However, the injured employee did not have to die on the job, but their harm had to be caused while employed at the business. The injured employee might have succumbed to their illness months or years later.
Under some circumstances, death benefits are available to workers that eventually succumbed to their illnesses after developing a workplace condition.
Common conditions include exposure to hazardous chemicals and dangerous toxins. Other conditions, like mesothelioma, are the result of long-term or short-term asbestos exposure.
In certain situations, Workers Compensation death benefits are available to surviving family members if the employee had a pre-existing medical condition exacerbated by their employment. For example, a worker with a pre-existing heart condition might be fatally injured by performing workplace duties that aggravated their condition.
Another example might involve an employee with a pre-existing respiratory condition aggravated by exposure to chemicals and smoke in the workplace.
Covid-19 Workplace-Related Deaths
Exposure to Covid-19 (coronavirus) in the workplace has claimed thousands of lives since early 2020. In most cases, the surviving family members who lost a loved one to Covid-19 caused by a work-related exposure might be entitled to receive workers compensation death benefits.
However, the employer's insurance company must have already accepted a Workers Compensation claim citing Covid-19 for damages before the employee died. Additionally, medical evidence must prove that Covid-19 caused the death.
The employer or their insurance company might deny the claim, creating an uphill battle for the family Worker's Compensation death benefits.
Numerous states have enacted laws to simplify receiving death benefits for certain occupations, including health care workers, first responders, and front-line workers.
Other Available Worker's Compensation Benefits
In every state, including Illinois, Workers Compensation programs pay part of a decedent's funeral and burial expenses so long as the employee died due to a workplace-related injury.
The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission typically determines the minimum and maximum amount that might be valued at a few thousand dollars to $10,000 or more.
The disability death benefits are paid to surviving family members for any medical treatment, prescription medications, or ambulance transport the worker received before dying.
The Illinois Workers Compensation death benefits were developed to ensure that the family and surviving spouse would not be left with extensive medical bills and burial costs after losing a loved one to a workplace injury.
However, the state Workers Compensation agency, or the employer's insurance company, might review the receipts to ensure that all health care, medical treatment, therapy, and rehabilitation were necessary to help in the healing process before the worker died.
Time Is of the Essence
Like personal injury civil lawsuits, filing for Workers Compensation death benefits is strictly limited based on the state's statute of limitations. Typically, cases must be filed in the appropriate county courthouse within one or two years from the time of death or when the decedent receives their last disability benefits.
However, extenuating circumstances could increase or decrease the length of time a surviving spouse or family member can file. Because of that, it is best to file cases as quickly as possible.
Third-Party Liability Claims FAQs
Is Worker's Compensation a Third-Party Payer?
The Worker's Compensation program is no-fault insurance that most employers must maintain to provide all employees coverage. Any worker harmed while on the job has the right to file a Workers Compensation case without proving who caused the accident, injury, or harm.
The coverage pays for missed time off from work, medical expenses, hospitalization costs, and therapy/rehabilitation bills. It does not cover non-tangible damages, including mental anguish, emotional distress, pain, and suffering.
Alternatively, a third-party case is a civil personal injury action based on state tort law where the injured party must prove how negligence or intentional actions led to their damages. At work, an at-fault party might include a subcontractor, vendor, visitor, invitee, or others not a part of the worker's employer.
What is the Third-Party Liability Claim?
Injured workers who believe that other entities, individuals, or businesses that are not their employer caused their damages through neglect can file a third-party liability claim.
Successfully resolving the case requires the victim, or their injury lawyer, to prove how any other party's negligence or intentional actions except their employer caused their injuries, damages, losses, or wrongful death.
How is Worker's Compensation Different From Other Third-Party Payers?
Third-party payers resolving personal injury claims are significantly different from the Worker's Compensation program's benefits. An injured worker can file a claim through their employer's insurance carrier participating in the Worker's Compensation program to get paid wages and medical expenses if they are injured at work.
Alternatively, a third-party payer is any entity or individual other than the employer paying the injured worker for causing them harm, damage, injury, or wrongful death. Claimants can file liability claims and receive money through the Worker's Compensation benefit program.
All funds received through the Worker's Compensation program and a liability case are not taxable under federal and state laws. Consequently, workers' compensation benefits are usually limited to a maximum of two-thirds of the worker's wages, salary, or earnings.
There is no maximum limit that an injured employee can receive in compensation in resolving a third-party liability case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.
Can You sue a Company for Negligence After Getting Worker's Compensation?
Typically, once you accept Worker's Compensation benefits through your employer's insurance company, you cannot then file a lawsuit seeking additional compensation from your boss. Typically, employers offer mandatory Worker's Compensation coverage for injured workers in exchange for giving up the right to file a lawsuit against their employer, citing negligence.
What are the Steps for Filing a Third-Party Claim?
Like all personal injury claims, filing a third-party claim requires proving your case through evidence of your damages that might involve medical records, hospital bills, health care expenses, lost earnings, and other losses.
An injured worker filing a third-party claim must contact the insurer as soon as possible to begin the resolution process. Potential defendants in a personal injury case might involve subcontractors, vendors, visitors, parts manufacturers, maintenance crews, and others.
Hiring an Illinois Workers Compensation Death Benefits Attorney
Did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death while they were at work? Did your loved one die as a result of exposure to hazardous conditions and materials in the workplace?
The Illinois personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can help your family seek and obtain maximum compensation for your losses.
A surviving family member, including a grandparent, sibling, child, or spouse, is entitled to recover their losses, including hospitalization costs, medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earnings, funeral/burial expenses, pain, and suffering.
Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation for legal advice and representation. Our legal team accepts all Illinois Workers Compensation death benefits claims through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures no fees are paid until we have successfully resolved your case.
All information you share with your Workers Compensation and death benefit attorney remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Our attorneys file current CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 guidelines to ensure everyone's safety.