Workers' Compensation Death Benefits

Back injuries and repetitive motion injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome are among the most common work-related injuries for which workers' compensation benefits are paid. Contact an attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim.

More Information on Workers' Compensation in San Diego

Attorney Leslie S. Shaw has considerable understanding of the nuances and the complexities of workers' compensation law in California. She knows how to deal with insurance defense lawyers, company doctors and others who may attempt to prevent you from obtaining the benefits that you rightfully deserve as an injured worker under California law.

Please call our law firm at 619-683-2346 or contact us online to arrange for a free initial consultation. We can help you understand your rights, address your questions and help you determine whether you wish to retain our firm as your legal counsel.

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For compassionate, capable and effective legal counsel for your workers' compensation matter, please call the San Diego, California, Law Office of Leslie S. Shaw, at 619-683-2346. You may also contact us through e-mail. Please note that we make it a point to respond to all communications promptly.

Workers' Compensation Death Benefits

In addition to workers' compensation benefits for workers for their job-related injuries and illnesses, if such maladies ultimately result in death, certain survivors have the right to receive death benefits through their states' workers' compensation systems. If you are the family member or dependent of an employee who died from an injury or sickness incurred in the course of his or her employment, a workers' compensation attorney at Leslie S. Shaw Law Office in San Diego, California, can advise you about workers' compensation death benefits.

The right to workers' compensation death benefits is usually created by state law and details of the program vary among the states. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the law in your particular jurisdiction. This article will summarize the typical features of death benefits in most states.

Beneficiaries of workers' compensation death benefits

In most states, the designation of appropriate beneficiaries of workers' compensation death benefits looks at two main relationships:

  • Dependents
  • Members of the deceased's family or household

Death benefits are designed to provide monetary support for those people who will suffer most from the worker's death. Naturally, those dependent upon the worker for financial support will be negatively impacted by the death. Some states differentiate between those wholly and those partially dependent, with preference for naming the completely dependent people beneficiaries over those only partially dependent. In some states, partially dependent individuals receive reduced awards.

Sometimes certain family members, such as spouses and children, are presumed to be dependent without having to provide proof. However, if there has been a severance of the marital relationship, such as a voluntary separation with financial independence, a surviving spouse may not be assumed dependent.

Many states look at family relationships or household makeup. For example, sometimes states prescribe lists of familial relationships eligible for death benefits. Where states look to household membership, unmarried cohabiting partners, in-laws, stepchildren or stepparents, or even unrelated persons may qualify for death benefits, so long as they were living in shared households with the deceased workers, especially where financial dependence was present.

Generally, states are liberal in determining who should be named a beneficiary, consistent with the benevolent nature of the benefit.

Type and amount of workers' compensation death benefits

Beneficiaries receive benefits to cover funeral and burial expenses capped at certain levels varying widely from state to state. The other component of the death benefit is a monetary amount compensating for lost wages that is usually a percentage of weekly wages.

The length of time a beneficiary receives death benefits varies widely by jurisdiction. Depending on the state, a surviving spouse may receive benefits until his or her own death, for a set number of weeks, until remarriage or until another intimate relationship. A child usually receives death benefits until reaching the age of majority. Other types of dependents usually receive benefits for life or until they become financially independent.

Other requirements of workers' compensation death benefits

For the right to death benefits to accrue, some states require that the work-related death occur within a particular length of time after the work injury, after the last treatment for the work injury or after some other occurrence. Some states require continuous disability from injury to death.

Finally, although the cause of death must be a job-related injury or disease, usually the cause of death does not have to be exclusively that injury or sickness, as long as it contributes significantly to the death.

Pending claims or accrued benefits

A living employee's workers' compensation benefits are considered separate and distinct from the death benefits generated later for beneficiaries. When accrued regular workers' compensation benefits are due a worker at the time of death, most states provide either that these accrued benefits pass through the estate of the deceased or to dependents. A death benefit award is a separate claim.

Speak to a workers' compensation lawyer

If you are the surviving spouse, child, relative, dependent or household member of someone who died from a work-related injury or disease, you may have a claim for workers' compensation death benefits. Do not delay in obtaining legal advice and filing an application; your state probably has time limits for applying. A workers' compensation lawyer at Leslie S. Shaw Law Office in San Diego, California, can answer your questions.

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