Wrongful Death in Workers’ Compensation? Not Exactly

wrongful death

The Illinois workers’ compensation system, much like systems across the country, was designed to provide injured workers with a mechanism for recovery from injury that was less costly and faster than litigation. Before the system was created, injured employees whose employers did not take responsibility for their injuries had to take the employer to court and prove that it was liable before they were able to obtain benefits.

Such a system was heavily in the employer’s favor as most employees could not afford to fight their employer in court and receive care for their injuries at the same time. After the creation of the workers’ compensation system, employees who were injured while performing the duties of their position were able to obtain immediate care at the expense of their employer. One area into which this system extends is with regard to death benefits.

“Death Benefits,” or more aptly, Survivors’ Benefits

Unlike lawsuits under wrongful death statutes, families of workers who are killed while on the job must seek any recovery for their loss under Illinois’ workers’ compensation statutes. This is because the family of the worker essentially steps into the place of their loved one and accepts benefits in his or her stead. Not all family members are entitled to survivors’ benefits, however, as the statute specifies exactly who may recover for the loss.

According to Illinois law, full benefits are payable to the spouse and/or children of the deceased worker. These benefits continue indefinitely until the spouse remarries, or the children reach a certain age (with an exception for dependents who are physically or mentally disabled). If the worker has no spouse or children, the survivors’ benefits can be payable to any dependent parents, grandparents, or other heirs who were “at least 50% dependent” on the employee at the time of his or her death.

As stated previously, the workers’ compensation system is designed to ensure that workers receive prompt and effective care for injuries, without regard to who was at fault for the incident causing the injury. This system protects employers as much as employees and was designed to provide as much of a “win-win” situation as possible whenever a traumatic event occurs in the workplace. Employers benefit from less time they must operate without the injured employee because faster treatment often leads to less time the employee is out of work.

Further, both parties are encouraged to continue to move forward after an incident rather than become embroiled in protracted litigation to prove who or what was at fault for the accident. This system can provide closure in the event of an employee’s death for the employer as well as the survivors by allowing for a mechanism through which the circumstances surrounding a loved one’s death is neither ignored nor drawn out unnecessarily.

Need a guide?

Even though the workers’ compensation system was designed to allow for fairly swift recovery in the event a loved one is injured or killed in the workplace, there are rules that must be followed in order for a survivor to recover the benefits to which they are entitled. If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace and you have questions about recovering against an employer, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Antioch today at (847) 395-2200. Our attorneys have years of experience fighting to protect workers and ensure that they receive what they are owed quickly, despite an employer’s recalcitrance.

Illinois Worker’s Comp Rules you Need to Know

workers compMost Illinois employers have to pay their employee worker’s comp insurance. The insurance is designed to compensate employees who get injured on the job by covering their medical expenses.

Basic Rules about Illinois Worker’s Compensation

In Illinois, employers are required to:

  • Purchase insurance for their employees in the form of worker’s compensation or acquire permission for self-insurance as per the law.
  • Ensure that a note detailing workers’ comp benefits is posted in a noticeable place in the workplace.
  • Maintain records of work-related injuries and report accidents that result in at least three lost workdays.

Besides these rules, employers are forbidden from:

  • Charging employees for any benefits they claim for worker’s compensation.
  • Firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against an employee who claims compensation as per their rights under the Worker’s Compensation Act.

The Act covers all potential workplace injuries and illnesses, whether partially or in whole. Even if you were injured because of a mistake, you would still be covered if the incident is covered as per compensation laws. Some of the covered injuries include:

  • An injured back or knees that resulted from heavy lifting at the workplace.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive motion such as typing.
  • Broken bones or concussions from blunt force trauma.
  • Slip and fall injuries in the workplace.
  • Exposure to lethal chemicals that cause disease or illnesses.

Besides on-site injuries, worker’s comp also covers injuries sustained offsite, provided the circumstances that led to them are work-related. So you will be covered if, say, you get hurt while making deliveries or installing cable. The injury or illness does not have to occur at a specific time to be considered for compensation. You can still file if either occurred over several months. Lake County worker’s comp attorneys can guide you.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

An employer can face strict penalties if they fail to provide or deny workers’ comp for their employees. Some of them include the following:

  • Negligence to pay workers’ comp insurance coverage is considered a Class A misdemeanor for each day without coverage. A guilty employer can face 12 months in jail and a fine amounting to $2,500.
  • Knowingly failing to provide compensation coverage is a Class 4 felony punishable with a jail sentence of several years and a $25,000 fine. With consistent non-compliance, the employer may also have to shut their company down till they get insurance.
  • Uninsured employers can be fined $500 for every day they fail to get coverage for their employees. They may also face a citation ranging from $500 to $2500 from the Insurance Compliance Division, losing protections that the Worker’s Compensation Act can give them. This includes protection from lawsuits that their employees may file to sue them.

Personal Injury Attorney

Contact Robert Edens to Get the Compensation You Deserve

Robert Edens and the Lake County worker’s comp attorneys in his team have fought for the rights of injured workers in Illinois for years. In the last two decades, they have recovered millions of dollars for their clients. Get in touch with him for a consultation today and get the compensation you deserve.