Looking at workers’ compensation death benefits in Illinois, P.1

In our last post, we looked briefly at a recently released report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which examined data on nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. The report highlighted, among other things, that construction laborers have a particularly high risk of workplace injury, which isn’t much of a surprise.

On its website, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also has a variety of data regarding fatal occupation injuries, both current and from years past. A quick glance at the preliminary data from 2014—the most current year available—makes it clear that the risk of fatal injury for construction workers is significant.

When a workplace fatality occurs, of course, it can be financially devastating for a family. Under Illinois’ law, the surviving dependants of a deceased worker do have the right to seek workers’ compensation death benefits, which includes both a burial benefit and a survivors’ benefit. The most recently available version of the Handbook on Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases lists the burial benefit for deaths occurring after February 1, 2006 as being $8,000.

The survivors’ benefit is two-thirds of the deceased employee’s gross average weekly earnings over the 52 weeks before the injury occurred. There are, however, minimum and maximum limits. The deceased employee’s spouse and children under the age of 18 are considered the primary beneficiaries of the survivors’ benefit. If there are no primary beneficiaries, the benefit would go to totally dependent parents, then to individuals who were at least 50 percent dependent on the employee at the time of death.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking a bit more at workers’ compensation death benefits here in Illinois, as well as the topic of wrongful death litigation as it relates to fatal workplace injuries.