A person can get hurt just about anywhere and at anytime. Nursing home employees, however, are at a higher risk according to some studies. The dangers they face are due in part to the physical nature of the job, the unpredictable behavior of residents and the illnesses commonly found in a group home setting.

Overall, it can be a demanding job. Nursing home employees are at a fall risk if the floors aren’t kept clean and clear of water and other spills. They are required to lift patients to move them in and out of bed, and lift equipment. The behavior of some of the people these employees are caring for is violent or at least resistive. And then there’s the risk of getting sick from a contagious disease or illness.

The amount of injuries sustained by nursing home employees is greater than some of the most physically demanding jobs out there, including construction and coal mining. Specific injuries caused by the increased risks include shoulder, neck and back injuries, as well as knee and head injuries. Because of the repetitive and physical nature of the job, repetitive stress injuries are common, as well. These can be caused by continual lifting, bending, reaching, etc.

As with any work-related injury, getting prompt medical attention is the best thing you can do. It puts your health first. Once you know what your injury is and understand the extent of the injury, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation to get coverage of all medical treatment. If your injury is severe enough to prevent you from working, you can seek payment for lost income, as well. All of these benefits are provided by Illinois workers’ compensation law if your injury was caused by your job.

Death benefits through workers’ compensation in Illinois

In the devastating cases where a worker is killed on the job, benefits may be available to the surviving family. Illinois workers’ compensation law calls these death benefits. In addition to a claim, each case should be analyzed for a potential lawsuit against a third party who may have been responsible for causing the death. A good attorney will investigate all possibilities.

At least some amount of death benefits should be available in every case where a worker is killed at work while performing duties that were part of their job. The law specifically says that benefits are available for injuries that “arise out of and in the course of” one’s employment. What this means is that benefits are not for every injury/death that happens while someone is at work. If the employee was doing something for their own benefit and completely outside of their job, such as horsing around with co-workers, it might not count as a work injury or death.

Another hurdle could be proving that the deceased worker was actually an employee and not an independent contractor. Generally, workers’ compensation is only for employees. However, employers aren’t always correct when they label those who work for them. Just because someone was referred to as an independent contractor and paid as an independent contractor, doesn’t mean they were one. A closer look at the relationship between the worker and the employer could show that they were actually an employee. It comes down to how much control the employer had over the worker’s schedule, work methods, equipment, clients, etc.

The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer is the one paying out benefits. In every death case, the insurance company has to pay any related medical bills, as well as funeral expenses. In those cases where there is a surviving minor children or a surviving spouse or someone else who was dependent on the deceased worker, the company also has to pay out death benefits, which can be more than $500,000. In the case of a dependent who is not a minor child or spouse, you have to prove dependency and benefits likely will be based on how dependent that person was on the person who died.

By Michael Helfand