Even in work environments that might be considered hazardous — such as construction sites or industrial warehouses — employees likely don’t expect to suffer a fatal injury while at work. Sadly, catastrophic accidents at a workplace can result in the death of a worker and might completely derail the lives of surviving family members. However, some of the families affected by this type of tragedy may be unaware that they actually qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Two workers in Illinois were involved in a devastating wreck at a tollbooth on the interstate. A state employee had stopped on the shoulder of the road to aid a car that had broken down. At the time, he was on the job in a state vehicle. A short while later, a state trooper also pulled over to render aid.
According to authorities, a fatigued truck driver had chosen to continue driving, despite being in no condition to do so. His criminal charges also indicate that he violated the regulation hours spent behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle. While driving faster than conditions permitted, the driver veered off the side of the highway and rammed into the three vehicles, critically injuring the state trooper and killing the state employee. The driver was recently convicted on criminal charges related to the wreck.
Although the wreck occurred on the highway, employees injured or killed in the process of completing work duties are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. For instance, the Illinois state trooper can likely benefit from the lost wages and compensation for medical care that the benefits provide, while the family of the fatally injured state employee can also file for death benefits, which are temporarily provided through workers’ compensation. However, some workplace injuries also involve a liable third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective tool or a negligent driver of an 18-wheeler. In those instances, it may also be appropriate for victims to pursue a personal injury claim against that third party alongside utilizing their workers’ compensation benefits.
Source: CBS Chicago, “Trucker Convicted In I-88 Collision That Killed Tollway Worker“, Feb. 26, 2015