An Illinois widow is receiving workers’ compensation death benefits in the wake of her husband’s 2005 murder. Reportedly, her husband was working at an Illinois restaurant when a dispute occurred between the woman’s husband and two other employees. One of the disgruntled employees was sent home after the fight, but then returned to work the next day with a gun and subsequently shot and killed both the woman’s husband and the other employee involved in the disagreement.
In some situations where there is known negligence, the injured party or dependents of a deceased worker can also file a negligence claim against a third party. If successful, this would entitle the individual to additional compensation on top of the workers’ compensation benefits.
It appears that this widow attempted to sue the restaurant in this vein because she felt the restaurant was negligent in hiring and retaining the murderous employee. However, a court ruled that this accident was “unexpected and unforeseeable,” therefore there was no grounds for suing based on negligence.
Although this woman was unsuccessful with her third party claim, she will still continue to receive her workers’ compensation death benefits. Filing a third party negligence claim cannot affect the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits. Further, if an injured employee files a claim — either a third party negligence claim or a workers’ compensation claim — it is illegal for the employer to fire that employee.
Workers’ compensation death benefits can be crucial to make up for the loss of a primary-income earner’s wages. While this widow still has to struggle with the fact that her husband was killed on the job, at least she can have some peace of mind with continuing to receive some form of compensation as a means of financial stability.
Source: Business Insurance, “Workers comp is exclusive remedy for widow of worker killed on the job: Court,” Sheena Harrison, Aug. 16, 2012