Workplace accidents can sometimes be fatal, but even if the employer was at fault, a lawsuit may not be possible due to the way workers’ compensation law works. In Illinois, workers (or in this case, their families) cannot sue the employer for negligence in these cases. However, there may be a possibility for a wrongful death lawsuit if other parties were involved in the injury.
The Workers’ Compensation Trade-off
Illinois workers’ compensation law is something of a trade-off. Employees cannot sue their employer for their injuries (except in certain rare cases), and employers are obligated to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation benefits are provided regardless of fault, which means that while the employer may not necessarily be directly liable for a workplace injury, they are still responsible for covering the cost of those injuries.
In the case of workplace death, the employer would need to pay for up to 25 years of lost income to the family of the deceased or $500,000, whichever is greater. In addition, they’ll also cover funeral expenses. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation won’t cover items such as loss of consortium or other damages.
However, the work situation may not always be as straightforward as a simple employer-employee environment. In some cases, third parties may be present and responsible for injuries that occur on-site. In those cases, a wrongful death lawsuit is possible since the third party is not the employer of the deceased.
For example, if a truck driver is killed in an accident with a third-party vehicle, and if the third-party driver was at fault for the accident, then a wrongful death lawsuit could be pursued by the truck driver’s family.
Another example would be a construction site where multiple contractors are at work. If the operator of a machine causes a deadly accident that kills another contractor’s workers, they’d be held liable for those deaths.
Seeking Compensation for Work-Related Fatality
If you have lost a loved one due to a workplace accident or illness, it’s important to get support and follow the correct process. Some tips to follow include those below.
Medical records, reports of the incident, and other lines of evidence are all important when pursuing workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death suits. They’ll help establish whether an incident was truly work-related and pin down the responsible parties.
Find Who Is Responsible
If the only other party involved is the employer, then workers’ compensation is the only route. However, if another party was at fault for the accident, they would be liable for paying any damages related to the wrongful death incident, including:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Loss of consortium
- Lost earnings and support
- Punitive damages (if applicable)
Coping with a work-related death is difficult, to say the very least. To help you get through the process, you’ll need legal support. An attorney can help you through your case and make sure all deadlines, paperwork requirements, and other related obligations are met. If you have lost a loved one due to a work-related death, contact Hart David Carson LLP to represent you.