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One interesting aspect of Illinois work comp law is that if a problem can be traced back to the original accident, you can get compensated for a second injury as well as the first. So if you hurt your back and that causes depression, you can get treatment and an enhanced settlement for your psychological problems. If you have a knee injury at work and your leg later gives out at home, if you fall and break your arm, you’ll receive compensation for both injuries.
For some people, a work-related accident can cause serious problems that could ultimately result in death. If you can show that your loved one wouldn’t have died if it wasn’t for the work injury, you could receive Illinois work comp death benefits which could be up to $500,000.00 plus burial and medical costs.
For example, if you were on blood thinners following surgery from a work-related injury and you hit your head and end up dying from a brain bleed, that could be a workers compensation death case. That’s because the blood thinners made a brain bleed much more likely.
These aren’t easy cases to prove or win, but I do think anyone who dies with an active workers compensation case, their family members should have a conversation with an attorney to see if a case for death benefits can be pursued.
More than any other type of claim, these cases come down to evidence and what you can prove versus what you suspect. For example, in a recent Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission decision, a widow filed for death benefits after her husband fell down the stairs at home and died. He previously had multiple neck surgeries including three cervical fusions. His widow testified that he had a restricted range of motion in his neck which made going up and down the stairs difficult. She felt he fell down the stairs because the surgeries left him in a weakened state, unable to look down, which contributed to him falling.
She lost her case unfortunately because the fall was not witnessed so everything she thought was just speculation, not actual proof. And you need actual proof to win. Further, the EMT report indicated he was having a heart attack when they arrived and didn’t have a pulse. It’s a terrible result for his widow who is probably correct in her belief. Knowing something is true in your heart is not enough to win. You have to objectively prove it too. Perhaps if there was testimony that he regularly fell she would have won or if there were cameras in the house that showed the fall it could have helped.
Because the payouts in these cases are so large if the survivors win, insurance companies fight these claims very hard and I’ve never seen one where they voluntarily paid without a little fight. But they are winnable if the facts are on your side which involves having an attorney in your corner who knows what to look for. We would be happy to review any case for you and can help with our state-wide network of attorneys which allows us to cover all of Illinois.