The death of a loved one is likely to bring not only grief, but anxiety. In addition to the shock of losing a loved one due to a work accident or injury, there are practical worries, like how you’ll pay the mortgage on one income, how you’ll pay for the groceries, or how you’ll pay for your kids to go to college. If a loved one has died due to a work injury or illness, you may be eligible for death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. A compassionate Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can walk you through the steps of seeking benefits.Death Benefits
As with workers’ compensation benefits paid for injuries, a fatal injury resulting in death benefits must also arise out of and in the course of work. It must happen while the worker is performing job duties or doing something for their employer’s benefit. Death benefits, like injury-related benefits, are awarded regardless of fault.
In Illinois, workers’ compensation laws permit certain survivors of a worker’s death to get a certain amount of death benefits. Survivors are able to obtain death benefits in a certain order of priority, with the deceased worker’s spouse being first in line to obtain death benefits. These benefits are shared with children who are minors, who are under age 25 when they’re in school full-time, or when children are mentally or physically incapacitated. When a child is mentally or physically incapacitated, the benefits will continue to be paid for as long the condition persists.
Generally, death benefits are only 2/3 of a deceased worker’s gross weekly wage. The gross weekly wage is determined based on the 52 weeks before the victim’s death and there are minimum and maximum caps. However, these can vary because there are also cost of living adjustments. Family members eligible for death benefits will be paid monthly, even though the amount compensated is calculated on a weekly basis.
When an employee isn’t married and doesn’t have children, his or her parents can be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits when they’re dependent on the victim. When there aren’t dependent parents, anybody who is dependent on a decedent a minimum of 50% of the time could be entitled to death benefits. Death benefits can be paid for up to 25 years or once family members receive $500,000 in death benefits. Once a spouse remarries, the rules change. A remarried spouse with no minor children gets two years’ worth of benefits in a lump sum payment and is then cut off from death benefits. Where a surviving spouse has kids under age 18, the benefits do continue.Funeral and Burial Benefits
Another important death benefit is the funeral or burial benefit. This changes, but is currently up to $8000. This can be significant, as these expenses can be overwhelming to family members who are unprepared for a sudden loss.Filing for Death Benefits
In order to get death benefits after your loved one dies from fatal injuries, you’ll need to file an application for adjustment of claim, and an experienced work injury lawyer can help. This is available from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. You only have 3 years from a worker’s death or 2 years after the last benefit payment to an injured worker, whichever is later, to file for death benefits. You would have three years from the death or two years from the last payment, where for example, your husband fell from a scaffold and suffered paralysis and fell into a coma for two years before passing away, and during that period in the coma, he was receiving workers’ compensation benefits. In that case, the later date would probably be three years from the death.Consult a Seasoned Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago
In addition to the grief you likely feel after the death of a loved one on-the-job, there may be practical financial considerations you will need to address. You may be able to apply for death benefits if your family member died of fatal work injuries in Chicago. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, our lawyers represent family members of workers who have died on the job in Aurora, Rockford, Quincy, Springfield, and Champaign, as well as Kane County, Cook County, Sangamon County, Winnebago County, and Adams County. We can also determine whether it’s appropriate to pursue damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online to learn more.