One of the basic principles of Illinois workers’ compensation law is that you can’t sue your employer for negligence. Work comp isn’t a lawsuit so while you get those benefits, if your employer was careless and left a wet floor that you slipped on, you don’t have an additional lawsuit.
This rule also applies if you are killed on the job. Let’s say you drive a truck in a tandem with another driver. While you are on your rest part of the shift, the other driver falls asleep and crashes the vehicle, killing you instantly. Your family can make a workers compensation claim but can’t sue the company.
All this said, whenever we represent someone on an Illinois work injury claim, we leave no stone un-turned. That is a part of being aggressive and a true advocate for a client. So while you can’t sue an employer for negligence when someone dies on the job, often there is a third party that is not a part of the company that you can sue.
In other words, you can get the work comp death benefit which is a burial expense, payment of all medical bills and a death benefit that is payable over 25 years with the minimum payment being $500,000.00. But there could also be more.
We see this often with deaths on construction sites. There are so many contractors on these jobs that often a scaffold breaks or a floor collapses because someone didn’t do their job right. Fair or not if it’s your employer you can’t sue, but if it’s a different company you can. Who is at fault could ultimately be the difference in millions of dollars. It’s not usually obvious and having a good attorney who cares enough to do a proper investigation makes all the difference in the world.
Of course the most common ones are obvious. If you are driving for work and another car plows in to you causing your death, your estate has the work comp claim and the case against the other party. But even then it’s important to have a full investigation. Commonly people are killed while working by truck drivers. Many companies that operate trucks go to great lengths to hide who the true owner is. There are multiple shell companies created so it may appear that the person responsible is part of a one truck team when in reality it’s owned by a publicly traded company. Again, having the right lawyer could be a difference of millions.
We hope you don’t have a loved one with a wrongful death on the job, but if you do and want help, we are happy to provide a free consultation. Call us at 312-346-5578 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.