Depending upon the severity of your injuries, your workers’ compensation claim can take a while to come to a successful resolution. Fortunately, the Illinois workers’ compensation system offers a number of benefits to help you and your family through a difficult time, including, but not limited to, payment for reasonable, related medical bills and Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, which are usually equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Nevertheless, you may have concerns about your family’s wellbeing and future, and in your weakened condition, you may find yourself asking, “What if I die before my workers’ compensation claim is over?”
Should the worst come to pass and you die before resolving your workers’ compensation claim, the answer to this question would depend upon a number of factors, the most important being whether or not the cause of death was related to your work injuries.
If the Cause of Death Is Unrelated
If the death is unrelated to the work injuries at the core of a workers’ compensation claim, the claimant’s estate could potentially be entitled to any Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) settlement that the claimant would have received for the permanent nature of his or her injuries had the claimant not passed. However, because the very notion of “disability” assumes that there would be future deterioration as a result of a claimant’s work injury, the PPD settlement for a deceased claimant could be worth significantly less if he or she should die before reaching a settlement.
Additionally, any weekly workers’ compensation payments that the claimant had been receiving, including TTD benefits, wage differential benefits, or payments for a permanent and total disability award by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, would be terminated at the time of the claimant’s unrelated death.
If the Cause of Death Is Related
But in cases where the cause of a claimant’s death is related to his or her work injuries, the claimant’s heirs may be entitled to death benefits. To be eligible, the deceased’s heirs need to establish that they were dependent on the claimant as defined under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Dependency can be difficult to prove, but death benefits can be significant, sometimes representing weekly benefits for the remainder of a dependent heir’s life under certain, narrow parameters.
How Can I Make Sure That My Family Is Protected?
As you can see, there are many potential benefits available to you and your family under the Illinois workers’ compensation system, but specific requirements must be met for you to take full advantage of them. To help maximize the value of your workers’ compensation claims in order to protect you and your family, you might consider seeking out the guidance of an experienced attorney, such as the Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC.
GWC is one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois, with over $2 billion recovered for our clients and offices throughout the state.