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Death Benefits for Firefighters

Lawyers for Families of Firefighters Pursuing Death Benefits

Firefighters who work for cities larger than 500,000 cannot obtain workers’ compensation benefits. City of Chicago firefighters are ineligible for Illinois Workers' Compensation benefits except compensation for disfigurement. However, families of firefighters for municipalities outside the city may be able to obtain death benefits when their loved ones die on the job. If you are a family member concerned about death benefits for firefighters, you should talk to the seasoned Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We also represent clients in wrongful death and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. When we take a case, we examine the facts and circumstances closely to determine whether relief beyond a workers’ compensation claim is appropriate.

Death Benefits for Firefighters

The workers’ compensation system allows for no-fault benefits when a worker is injured or killed on the job. In other words, you don’t have to establish fault to obtain benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. One of the benefits our lawyers can pursue after a firefighter’s fatal injuries is the death benefit.

Like other workers’ compensation benefits available under the law, the death benefit is only paid when a worker sustained injuries in the course of working; these injuries must be fatal for the death benefit to be paid. In other words, your loved one must have died while performing job duties such as firefighting or otherwise doing something for an employer’s benefit. For instance, if your spouse was trapped in a burning building while trying to extinguish a three alarm fire, you may be entitled to death benefits.

Lawyers for Calculating Death Benefits

Death benefits are calculated at 2/3 of a firefighter’s average weekly wage. The average weekly wage can be calculated in different ways depending on the compensation received by the deceased firefighter. You can receive these benefits as the surviving spouse or minor child of a firefighter who died on the job. As a surviving spouse, you can receive death benefits for the greater of 25 years or up to $500,000. Those who receive death benefits can be entitled to cost of living adjustments through a Rate Adjustment Fund.

A deceased firefighter’s survivors are entitled to obtain death benefits in a specific priority order. The decedent’s spouse is the first eligible to get these benefits. He or she shares the death benefits with the decedent’s minor children under age 25 when they’re in school full-time. However, the benefits will also be shared when the children of the deceased firefighter are physically or mentally incapacitated.

A deceased firefighter’s parents can also be eligible for death benefits if they were dependent on the firefighter and the firefighter was killed in the course of employment. Similarly, when no dependent parents survive the decedent, anybody who is dependent on a decedent for a minimum of 50% of the time can receive death benefits.

However, if a spouse remarries, a lump sum payment will be made. This payment is in the amount of two years of benefits. After that, he or she can no longer collect any more death benefits, though minor children under age 18 can continue to receive death benefits.

Burial Expenses Benefit for Firefighters

In addition to the death benefit, you may be able to obtain a burial expenses benefit after a firefighter’s death. While this benefit is currently $8000 payable to a surviving spouse, dependent or next of kin to cover funeral and burial costs in the event of a firefighter’s work-related death, this figure changes periodically. When a surviving spouse remarries and a decedent doesn’t leave behind children entitled to benefits, the surviving spouse can receive a lump sum. This is equal to two workers’ compensation benefits. Once this is paid, the spouse’s rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act are terminated.

Hire a Chicago Law Firm for Death Benefits

Death benefits for firefighters can help families outside of Chicago struggling to stay afloat after the death of a loved one in the course of fighting fires. Our attorneys represent the families of firefighters in Champaign, Rockford, Quincy, and Aurora, as well as Sangamon, Winnebago, Kane, Cook, and Adams Counties. Call us at 800-444-1525 or 312-263-6330 or complete our online form .