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Illinois workers' compensation death benefits appropriate?

Illinois residents who lose their lives in on-the-job accidents often leave behind dependent family members who must now live without the income that the worker formerly provided. Under certain circumstances, such family members may be able to apply for workers' compensation survivor benefits. This can often help the family make ends meet financially as they also deal with the emotional grief from losing a loved one.

In many on-the-job accidents, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for investigating the incident and determining whether a company has been complying with safety guidelines. One recent fatal accident at an Illinois Komatsu facility resulted in $82,000 in fines being levied by OSHA. The company will be given 15 days after receiving notice of the proposed fine to either pay it, ask for an informal meeting with an OSHA official or to lodge a formal contesting of the fine in front of OSHA's Review Commission.

The fatal accident happened while a worker was testing hydraulic cylinders for any leaks. A hydraulic coupler which was part of the hoist stand malfunctioned, ultimately severing the man's arm and eviscerating him. The worker tragically succumbed to the injuries that he had sustained in the accident two days later. OSHA later accused Komatsu of four safety violations, with two of them being considered repeat violations.

Two of the violations were also considered 'serious' offenses, meaning that the company either knew or should have known about the serious probability of serious harm or death occurring if conditions are not changed. In situations like this, surviving family members may find they can make a claim for workers' compensation death benefits. While this won't bring back a lost loved one, it can alleviate some of the financial strain the family faces after losing an important-or potentially even sole-breadwinner.

Source: Peoria Journal Star, "Komatsu fined $82,000 for 'serious violations' before worker death," Matt Buedel, March 7, 2013

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ITLA WCLA Illinois State Bar Association
Super Lawyers ABA- American Bar Association The Chicago Bar Association Founded 1874
 Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association Lake County Bar Association Recommended By Peers For Leading Lawyers Network