“I witnessed my co-worker die on the job. Do I have a workmans’ comp case? Does his wife have a work comp case?”
Scenario: A construction worker is at a high-rise building work site. He watches his co-worker fall over the ledge and to his death.
1.) Does the worker who saw his friend die have a possible work comp case in Illinois? The short answer: Most likely, YES, if the worker suffers severe enough documented mental issues / emotional shock traceable to the specific incident he witnessed.
In Illinois, it can be very difficult to win what is called a “mental-mental” workers’ comp case. A “mental-mental” case is a situation in which an injured worker sustains psychological injuries as a result of non-physical work-related factors, as discussed in a prior post (“Mental-Mental Injuries“). The perfect example of this is witnessing something horrific which gives a person severe mental issues. If it involves something physical — such as, the worker is physically held hostage at a bank robbery, then that would be “physical-mental,” and is a bit easier to win. If it is only mental-mental, then it is more difficult, but still possible to win a case in Illinois.
2.) Does the wife / widow of the worker who fell to his death have a workers’ comp case? Most likely, YES — unless it involves suicide, fighting with a co-worker, or blatantly disregarding job site rules, but regardless, it should be talked through with a work comp attorney. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides protection and benefits for the widow and dependents / succession of heirs, and I would advise such a family to contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney immediately for free, private, direct advice on what to do and how to maximize their financial recovery from such a devastating situation. In my 47 years of experience, I have helped many widows and families in such a situation, and I am always honored to provide any advice or support that anyone dealing with this may need.