Workers' compensation benefits may be the only option
A recent Illinois appellate court decision precludes a widow from suing her husband’s employer for negligence. The decision was based on the case Rodriguez v. Frankie’s Beef/Pasta & Catering. In Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez, an employee of the restaurant Frankie's Beef & Pasta, allegedly got in an argument with a co-worker. After the argument, the manager on duty urged the two employees to get along and sent the co-worker home. The next day, rather than reporting to work, the co-worker showed up at Frankie's Beef/Pasta & Catering restaurant, shot and killed Jose Rodriguez.
Mr. Rodriguez’s widow sued Frankie’s Beef alleging that the restaurant negligently hired the employee that shot her husband. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that she cannot bring a lawsuit against an employer when the employer is already obligated to pay workers’ compensation benefits.
Worker’s compensation provides compensation to employees for injuries sustained in the workplace. Workers' compensation also provides family members with compensation for a family member who died in the course of his or her employment.
Under Illinois’s worker’s compensation laws, an employer is not liable for damages due to accidental injuries or death sustained by an employee in the course of his or her employment, other than the compensation provided through the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Ms. Rodriguez appealed the trial court’s decision arguing that her husband’s death was not an accidental injury, because accidental is defined as injuries that are “unexpected and unforeseeable”. She argued that because the employer sent the employee home after the altercation, his actions the next day were not accidental.
The appellate court disagreed with Ms. Rodriguez and agreed with the trial court. Its decision found that there was no evidence that the employer knew, or expected, that the other employee presented a threat to the safety of Mr. Rodriguez.
Collecting workers’ compensation benefits
If you have lost a loved one in a workplace accident, an experienced worker’s compensation attorney can help you recover compensation for your loss. As discussed above, workers' compensation benefits may be your only option for compensation. There are incidences, however, when you may be able to recover damages form a third party who shares responsibility for the injuries, including equipment manufacturers, suppliers and private contractors.
The worker’s compensation process is complex, often involving multiple hearings and requiring adherence to strict filing deadlines. Contact an experienced Illinois worker’s compensation attorney to guide you through the process and to get you the compensation that you deserve.