Illinois Appellate Court rules employer must pay workers’ compensation benefits to estate of deceased coal miner

The Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled that an employer could not avoid a judgment for payment of the full workers’ compensation benefits owed to the estate of a deceased coal miner, in spite of the employer alleging that it was owed a credit due to its payments to the estate under the Black Lung Benefits Act.

In the case of Estate of Burns v. Consolidation Coal Company, the deceased worker had worked as a coal miner for 38 years. His death was attributed to pneumoconiosis, pneumonia and severe chronic pulmonary disease. His widow filed state and federal claims related to his death, but she passed away before the claims were resolved. An arbitrator eventually found that the total benefits payable to the estate under the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act were $97,845.45. During the pendency of that state claim, the employer conceded liability in a federal claim and paid $23,386.30 under the federal Black Lung Benefits Act.

After the state occupational disease benefits claim was upheld on appeal, the employer paid $89,865.30 to the wife’s estate, subtracting amounts paid under the federal claim, and adding interest. In its ruling, the Illinois Appellate Court held that the employer was not entitled to offset the amount of the federal claim against the workers’ compensation benefits.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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