When a worker dies after a job-related accident, the consequences can be tragic and severe for families. Workers’ compensation law offers a range of benefits for the survivors of industrial accidents. Injured workers lawyers in Illinois are familiar with the different forms of compensation available for families after losing a loved one on the job.
What are survivors’ benefits?
Survivors’ benefits are payments made to immediate family members after a person’s death from work-related causes. These benefits may include funeral payments and ongoing assistance to support the family after the loss of a primary breadwinner. This situation is tragically common in many industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 172 Illinois employees were killed on the job or died as a result of work-related injuries during 2013.
Who may collect survivors’ benefits?
After a fatal accident on the job, the following people may be awarded the Illinois survivors’ benefit, in order of preference:
- The worker’s primary beneficiaries, defined as the worker’s spouse and any children up to the age of 18.
- The worker’s parents, if they are dependent and in need of financial or medical support.
- Other relatives such as nieces, nephews, cousins or grandchildren who were partially dependent on the worker may also be eligible for Illinois survivors’ benefits.
If a case is disputed or unclear, injured workers lawyers in Illinois are aware that it may be subject to further arbitration.
How does the state of Illinois calculate survivors’ benefits?
The IWCC calculates survivors’ benefits starting with a lump sum of $8,000 paid for funeral and burial costs. This amount nearly doubles the previous benefit totaling $4,200 that was offered for funeral costs in cases of job-related death occurring before February 2006. After the burial costs are paid, the state of Illinois calculates ongoing benefits as two-thirds of the average weekly pay earned by the worker during the year before the fatal incident. If an employee earned $900 per week, for example, the family is entitled to weekly benefits totaling $600.
Are survivors’ benefits ever subject to change?
Injured workers lawyers in Illinois recognize that survivors’ benefits may change in some situations. Illinois workers’ compensation benefits for surviving families may increase on a yearly basis to keep up with shifts in the cost of living. Surviving spouses who remarry may lose their benefits after payment of a final lump sum if there are no dependent children.
Negotiating benefits after the death of a worker can be complicated. Bereaved families may find it useful to contact a workers’ compensation attorney.