Can I Sue for Wrongful Death if My Spouse Dies From COVID Exposure at Work?

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Wrongful Death

wrongful deathAs of the fall of 2021, the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is over. Yet the number of COVID cases and deaths continues to increase. Many people are understandably worried they might contract coronavirus if they go back to work. That’s especially true if the person has not been vaccinated, for whatever reason, and belongs to a high-risk group. You can sue for wrongful death if your spouse dies from COVID exposure at work, but as outlined below, these cases are rather complex.

No amount of money could possibly fill the void that a wrongful death creates. But no one can turn back the clock and change the past, so money damages are the next best thing. Furthermore, the compensation an Ogle County wrongful death lawyer obtains helps survivors pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. In most cases, that’s the best possible result under the circumstances.

Making the Connection

Legal causation is often the most difficult element to prove in COVID wrongful death cases. Fortunately, the burden of proof is low and there are tools available in these situations.

In a negligence injury claim, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence, more likely than not. That’s one of the lowest burdens of proof in Illinois law.

Picture two equally full glasses of water that are side by side. If someone adds a single drop of water to the glass on the right, it contains more liquid than the glass on the left. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence. A little proof goes a long way.

The burden of proof in workers’ compensation claims is even lower. These claimants need not establish negligence at all. They must only prove the fatal injury or illness was work-related.

Incidentally, insurance companies cannot use the aforementioned lack of vaccination or high-risk categories as an excuse to reduce or deny compensation, at least in most cases. The eggshell skull rule protects victims in these situations. Defendants, like employers, must take victims as they are.

As for evidence, three years ago, very few people had heard of contact tracers. Now, these professionals can accurately estimate the source of coronavirus infection. Contact with infected individuals is not the only way to get coronavirus. This virus often lives on surfaces for two days or more.

Remedies Available

Typically, workers’ compensation covers work-related illness and injury damages. These damages usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment.

In wrongful death workers’ compensation claims, the wage replacement benefit usually includes future lost wages. An Ogle County wrongful death lawyer frequently partners with accountants and other such professionals to determine a fair amount of future lost wages. The medical bill payment benefit usually includes final expenses, like funeral and burial costs.

Workers’ compensation usually applies to unintentional injuries, like falls or hearing loss. But coronavirus injuries are often intentional, at least to an extent. Everyone knows about the risk and everyone knows the protective measures to use.

Legally, these protective measures are called the standard of care. In coronavirus matters, the standard of care usually includes safe social distancing requirements, surface sanitization, and face protection. Furthermore, the workplace illness rules have changed. If a worker shows symptoms, the boss can ask the worker about possible COVID-19 infection.

If there is evidence that the employer ignored the standard of care and recklessly put employees at risk, victims might be able to file civil negligence claims and obtain additional compensation. This additional compensation usually includes money for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Work with a Diligent Winnebago County Attorney

Accident victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Ogle County wrongful death lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. by going online or calling 815-315-0574. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

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