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Illinois work-related deaths and survivors' benefits

Losing a loved one in a work-related death is a tragedy that will stay with survivors forever. While nothing can replace their loved one, it is important to understand that immediate family members may be entitled to benefits for any losses associated with the family member's death. These benefits are provided through the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission and typically cover funeral and burial expenses.

Survivors should note that the burial benefit may vary and is based on the date of the injury instead of when the Illinois employee died. This means that if the family member survived for a period of time, the benefit amount may be less than if he or she died immediately. The current burial benefit amount is $4,200 for work-related deaths occurring before February 1, 2006 and $8,000 for those occurring after February 1, 2006.

The deceased worker's primary beneficiaries, which usually include minor children and spouses, may also receive additional survivor's benefits. The amount of these benefits is two-thirds of the worker's median weekly pay. This is based on the deceased worker's earnings for the 52 weeks preceding the initial injury. In some cases, the benefit amount will be subject to maximum and minimum limitations.

If the worker had no primary beneficiaries, benefits may be assigned to totally dependent parents. In the absence of dependent parents, the benefits may go to individuals who were partially dependent on the worker at the time of his or her death.

Naturally, this is a difficult topic for many to address, especially if the loss of a loved one just occurred. However, you should feel comfortable broaching these topics with a personal injury attorney who can assist you in managing your loved one's workers' compensation claim or help you with a third party wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, "Handbook on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases," accessed Nov. 02, 2015

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