Who do I sue in a workplace death lawsuit?
Catastrophic Injury/Wrongful Death - February 4, 2023
Losing a loved one is the hardest thing anyone will ever have to endure. When that loss occurs due to a workplace accident, the surviving family members will often want to file a workplace death lawsuit against the employer. That’s typically not an option in Illinois. Instead, the survivors will usually need to file a workers’ compensation claim.
In addition to the workers’ comp claim, you may also be able to file a workplace death lawsuit against a negligent third party that contributed to the accident. A Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates Chicago wrongful death lawyer can outline all of your options.
Workers’ compensation and workplace deaths
When the surviving family members seek damages through workers’ compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one, the program will typically pay death benefits up to $500,000 or for 25 years, whichever amount is greater.
However, the program doesn’t pay all of the deceased employee’s wages. Instead, it pays for two-thirds of what the worker earned. Other benefits include payment of the deceased’s medical bills and $8,000 in funeral and burial costs.
Who is eligible to receive death benefits through workers’ comp?
Workers’ comp death benefits go to the spouse of the worker, as well as any children younger than 18. If the worker died with no spouse or children, then the worker’s parents may be eligible to receive benefits. If none of these apply, then any person who can prove that they were at least 50% dependent on the deceased may qualify. These qualified persons may include siblings, step-children, and others.
When you may be able to file a wrongful workplace death lawsuit
While you typically can’t sue the employer for negligence through a workplace death lawsuit, you might be able to take action against a third party. If, for instance, the employee died due to a malfunctioning piece of machinery, a representative of the family may be able to sue the company that made the machine.
They may have been negligent in the design, manufacturing, or marketing, and that negligence was a direct cause of the accident that led to the tragedy.
As stated earlier, there are a few cases where survivors may be able to sue an employer. These include the following:
- The employer intentionally harmed the worker
- The employer failed to carry workers’ compensation
- The employer was aware of potentially fatal workplace conditions, yet failed to do anything to address them
It’s important to note that you can only sue an employer for especially egregious actions. If they committed basic negligence, your only option will be to pursue a workers’ comp claim or to file a lawsuit against a third party if applicable.
Contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates to Learn More
A workplace death lawsuit can be very complex, so let an experienced Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates handle it for you. Call (800) 985-1819 to schedule a free consultation.