Death Benefits in the Auto Industry

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Serving Chicago

The auto industry can expose workers to serious hazards, including the risk of fatal injuries. If an Illinois auto worker dies due to a work-related injury or occupational illness, his or her family members may be able to obtain death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. The system provides death benefits to certain surviving family members who are left with larger living expenses, as well as funeral and burial costs. If you have lost a family member and are concerned about obtaining death benefits in the auto industry, an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can answer your questions.

Death Benefits in the Auto Industry

Certain family members of auto workers may qualify as dependents who can collect death benefits. Those who may be able to collect include an auto worker’s spouse, minor child, a child under 25 who is full time going to an accredited educational institution, and an incapacitated child of any age. When an auto worker doesn’t have a child or spouse, other family members may be able to qualify for benefits. They can include grandchildren, grandparents, adult children or parents.

Death benefits are paid to family members in a certain priority order. The first to be paid benefits are the spouse and eligible children of a deceased auto worker. These benefits will continue either until the spouse dies or the youngest child gets to age 18 or, if the child is enrolled in school full time, until he or she is 25. However, if the child of the deceased is incapacitated either mentally or physically, he or she can continue getting benefits for as long as the condition exists, up to the maximum or death. Sometimes spouses remarry and no children are eligible for benefits. In that case, the remarried spouse can be paid a lump sum amount of two years of benefits, and then benefits stop being paid.

The next in order of priority is parents who were totally dependent on the auto worker. Where there’s no surviving children or spouse, the insurer will pay benefits to the worker’s parents for the rest of their lives if they were completely financially dependent on the worker. If there are no fully dependent parents, dependent adult children and partially dependent parents of the auto worker are next in line to receive benefits. These recipients must have been in some manner dependent on the deceased auto worker’s income, whether partially or fully. They can receive 8 years’ worth of benefits.

Next in line are the auto worker’s grandchildren, grandparents, or family members related through relationships between siblings. Here, too, the recipients needs to have been a minimum of 50% dependent on the decedent’s income and can collect benefits for five years. A seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine what level of priority you may have to receive death benefits after losing a family member to an on-the-job injury.

Amount of Death Benefits

The amount of death benefits available to surviving family members hinges on the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. There is a maximum and minimum set by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, and those who are eligible can get a maximum of 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wage. Regardless of the circumstances, the benefits stop being paid after 25 years or after $500,000 has been paid out.

To obtain death benefits, you will need to file an Application for Adjustment of Claims. The time limit for filing this claim is 3 years after a worker’s death or two years after the last benefit is paid to the worker, whichever of these occurs later.

In addition to the wage-related benefits, workers’ compensation insurance is also supposed to pay for the actual cost of the decedent’s funeral. However, it only needs to pay up to the established maximum, which is currently $8,000.

Wrongful Death

When a worker dies on the job and there was a third party at fault for the death (such as the manufacturer of a defective lift that fell and crushed the worker), it may be possible to sue the third party in a civil suit for wrongful death.

Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

At Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck, our work injury lawyers may be able to help you recover death benefits in the auto industry in Chicago. We can assist family members in Springfield, Champaign, Aurora, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as those in Cook, Kane, Winnebago, Sangamon, Champaign and Adams Counties. We examine workers’ compensation claims for death benefits closely to determine whether it may be appropriate to bring a wrongful death lawsuit as well. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online to learn more.