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Steps to take if an employer refuses to pay death benefits

Families of Illinois workers who have died on a construction site due to employer negligence may be aware that they are entitled to benefits from the employer under the Workers' Compensation Act. If the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission awards benefits to the deceased's worker's family, but the employer refuses to pay these benefits, a lawsuit against the employer may be filed to try to receive those benefits.

Family members of the deceased worker may file a petition to request that the county circuit court issue a payment order. Apart from this, family members can also file a complaint with the commission requesting a penalty for the delay in payment and also ask for a reimbursement of legal fees. Complaints may also be filed with the commission against insurers for delaying payment. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Insurance may also be informed about a delinquent insurance payment.

Once a lawsuit is filed, arbitrators appointed by the court hold hearings at locations around the state. The plaintiff and the accused employer are sent notices, which list the time and location of the hearing. Family members and their legal representation should attend these meetings. Depending on the proceedings, arbitrators may order the employer to pay additional compensation of $30 for each day benefits have been denied, with a limit of $10,000 for this penalty.

Further appeals can be made to the state appellate court and the Supreme Court, if the circuit court is unable to provide a suitable solution. Though these benefits do not replace a lost loved one, they can provide some financial relief during the difficult times.

Source: IWCC.IL.gov, "Handbook on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases," Accessed on May 15, 2015

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