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Compensation for families of contractors killed at work

Contractors fall outside the formal definition of employees. Independent contract workers are not covered by employer-paid workers' compensation insurance. The insurance provides benefits for Illinois employees who suffer work-related injuries and families whose loved ones die in fatal accidents while on the job.

Workers' compensation insurance also insulates most employers from liability for an employee's injury or death. Since contractors are not insured by employers, workers are not bound by this restriction granting legal immunity to employers.

A National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries is conducted each year in the U.S. by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It wasn't until 2011 that contract workers' deaths were designated separately from other workers in the CFOI report. The government's definition of a contractor is not a self-employed individual but a person employed by one company while working for another business.

The total number of workers who died on the job in 2013 was just above 4,400, an overall rate of 3.2 fatalities for every 100,000 workers employed full time. Seventeen percent or 734 of all U.S. workplace fatalities that year involved contract workers. One in five or 892 deaths at work were among self-employed individuals.

Fifty percent of all contractors were working on behalf of construction or extraction companies when they suffered fatal injuries. Most victims were construction laborers or supervisors. By far, the most deaths among self-employed workers were among large truck drivers.

Subcontractors, like any other employers, are obligated to provide workers' compensation insurance for employees. Therefore, some contract workers and their families are eligible for benefits. These workers and self-employed individuals, unprotected by workers' compensation, may seek damages through civil claims against employers who contract but don't insure them.

Marquardt & Belmonte attorneys can assist work accident victims and their families with workers' comp claims or lawsuits for damages. The first step toward either action is an assessment of an accident claim.

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Marquardt & Belmonte, P.C.

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Wheaton, IL 60187

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