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Fatal Work Injuries in the Auto Industry

Lawyers for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Chicago

Sometimes work accidents turn fatal. Many families do not have enough saved to withstand the death of someone whose earnings contributed to the household expenses. And after a death, there may be additional expenses, such as those for funeral and burial. Accordingly, under Illinois workers’ compensation law, workers’ families can get death benefits through the workers’ compensation system after a worker dies on the job. If you’re concerned about workers’ compensation benefits for fatal work injuries in the auto industry, you can consult a seasoned Chicago workers’ compensation attorney for guidance.

Fatal Work Injuries in the Auto Industry

As with other work injuries, fatal work injuries in the auto industry must arise out of and in the course of a job in order to be compensable. An auto manufacturing plant can be a dangerous place, and a worker may be exposed to these dangers through a number of serious hazards throughout the day. If an auto worker does something for the benefit of the employer and dies as a result, the death will likely lead to death benefits for surviving family members through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, even if work causes a fatal heart attack on the job, it may be compensable. Workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault benefits.

The family of the decedent may be able to recover benefits even if the worker was to blame for his or her death. For example, even if an auto worker didn’t follow safety rules and was run over by a piece of equipment and suffered fatal injuries, his failure to follow those rules should not jeopardize his family’s ability to obtain death benefits.

Available Death Benefits

Surviving spouses and children under age 18 are eligible for benefits after an employee dies. When an employee wasn’t married and didn’t have children at the time of death, his or her parents may be eligible if they were financially dependent on the victim. Where there are no parents, anybody dependent on the victim at least half of the time can be entitled to survivors’ benefits. The person claiming dependency will need to establish their dependency and its extent.

Survivors can get 2/3 of the employee’s gross weekly wage as the death benefit. The gross weekly wage for purposes of this benefit is calculated based on the wages during the 52 weeks before the decedent’s death. There are maximum and minimum gross weekly wages. Cost of living adjustments will occur. Death benefits are paid for 25 years or once the survivors receive $500,000 in benefits, whichever sum is higher. When a surviving spouse remarries, he or she does not continue to get benefits unless there are children under age 18. When there are no minor children, the surviving spouse gets 2 years of compensation paid in a lump sum when they remarry, after which time no further death benefits are paid.

Death benefits can include funeral and burial expenses. They can also include the medical bills incurred after a worker suffered fatal work injuries.

Independent contractors aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, some employers hire workers and label them independent contractors specifically to avoid paying benefits, such as workers’ compensation benefits. Therefore, you shouldn’t assume a loved one was what an employer said they were. An employer’s classification of a worker is not necessarily binding under the law, even if the worker signed a contract agreeing to be considered an independent contractor. It can be helpful to have a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney look at your situation to determine whether fatal work injuries are compensable through workers’ compensation.

Although death benefits are available through workers’ compensation, they aren’t always substantial. You may be able to bring a third party lawsuit for wrongful death in Illinois under certain circumstances. For example, if a worker dies as the result of a defective product used in the workplace, it may be possible to bring a product liability lawsuit against the product manufacturer.

Retain an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you have survived an auto worker who suffered fatal work injuries in Chicago, you can consult a seasoned lawyer to determine your legal rights. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent workers in Champaign, Aurora, Quincy, Rockford, and as well as Cook, Kane, Sangamon, Winnebago, Adams Counties. We look closely at each client’s circumstances to assess whether there are additional forms of relief available. Call us at 800-444-1525 or at 312-263-6330 or by contact us via our online form.