As we continue to wage the fight against COVID-19, the news has regrettably been full of numerous instances of doctors and nurses tragically losing their fight to Coronavirus after getting sick at work. A nurse who worked at the University of Illinois Hospital for more than ten years passed away from COVID, leaving a husband and two children1. A nurse who worked at Community First Medical Center in Chicago passed away after initially testing negative and then having her symptoms return and worsen2. A 35 year-old nurse at Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook lost her battle with the virus, leaving behind a husband and three young children3. With more than 2,500 healthcare workers infected across the state, there is a likelihood that there will be additional tragedies. COVID does not limit itself to a particular geography, and these tragedies can affect any healthcare worker across the state – whether they are in Springfield, Peoria, Bloomington, East St. Louis, Waukegan, Rockford, Aurora, or Chicago.
The survivors of healthcare workers who lose a loved one from workplace exposure can fight back. Through the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, there are several benefits to the families and survivors of workers who lose their lives due to work accidents or occupational diseases. At a base level, the Act provides a burial benefit of $8,0004. The Act also provides a survivor’s benefit that consists of two-thirds of the employee’s gross average weekly wage during the 52 weeks preceding their injury, subject to minimum and maximum limits. Payment of these benefits is the lesser of 25 years or $500,0005.
The main beneficiaries of the survivors’ benefit are children under the age of 18 and the employee’s spouse. If the employee’s children are enrolled as a full time student in an accredited educational institution, payments shall continue until the child reaches age 256. If an employee’s spouse remarries and there are eligible children at the time of the remarriage, benefits shall continue 7. If an employee had no children and the employee’s spouse remarries, the surviving spouse shall be paid a final lump sum equal to two years of compensation benefits8.
If an employee does not have a spouse or children, and leaves a parent or parents who were totally dependent on them, then benefits shall be paid to the parent or parents for the duration of their lives9. The Act also has provisions for surviving children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and collateral heirs who are partially dependent upon the deceased worker.
The families of healthcare workers who become sick at work have rights. Katz Friedman is currently representing many injured healthcare workers in work accident cases against their employers and will continue to investigate claims being made by healthcare workers whether it takes place from lifting, slipping, falling, or contracting COVID-19. When making decisions regarding a work injury sustained while working in a healthcare facility, it is wise to consult a workers’ compensation attorney to protect your interests because it is clear that the facility already has their lawyers working trying to defeat your claim. If you or someone you know works in health care and suffers from COVID-19, the attorneys and staff of Katz Friedman are here to help with obtaining proper compensation.
4)IWCA, 820 ILCS 305/7(f)
5)IWCA, 820 ILCS 305/8(b)4.2
6)IWCA, 820 ILCS 305/7(a)
7)IWCA, 820 ILCS 305/7(a)
8)IWCA, 820 ILCS 305/7(a)
9)IWCA, 820 ILCS 305/7(b)