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Disability Law Offices of Tony Adderley

Benefits For Fatal Work Injuries

  • By: Tony Adderley
  • Published: June 26, 2013

When a person is injured on the job, the law allows that person to seek worker’s compensation benefits through the employer’s worker’s compensation insurance policy. Every employer in California, no matter how many or how few employees the employer maintains, must carry worker’s compensation insurance. When a person is injured on the job, that person can file a claim for worker’s compensation benefits through the appropriate insurance company.

When an Accident is Fatal

In the event that a workplace accident results in a fatality, then the surviving members of the worker’s family are generally allowed to file for worker’s compensation benefits on behalf of the deceased. It must be understood that worker’s compensation benefits can only be pursued by surviving members of a family when an accident results in death. If an injury victim is alive following a workplace accident, then it is only the victim who can seek benefits.

Survivorship Benefits

Worker’s compensation benefits paid to the surviving members of a deceased person’s family are often referred to as survivorship benefits. Generally, only the surviving spouse and/or surviving dependents of the worker are allowed to pursue survivorship benefits. The worker’s compensation system allows surviving spouses and dependents of workers killed on the job to pursue benefits under the system because, in many cases, the spouses and dependents of the deceased were depending on the income which the decedent was earning before the accident.

California Worker’s Compensation Death Benefits

The survivors of a California worker killed on the job are generally allowed to recover for funeral expenses, up to $5,000, and lost earnings, which are paid based on the number of dependents which the decedent left behind and the extent of dependency. There is typically a time or cash limit attached to death benefits, which means that they are not paid forever. However, there are some instances which would allow survivors of a deceased worker to continue receiving coverage after a limit has been reached, such as when a dependent child has yet to reach the age of majority.

A Word of Advice

Survivors of California workers killed on the job should be aware that they may be in for a fight when it comes to getting the benefits owed. The family is usually at a disadvantage because, in most cases, the family pursuing benefits was not present at the accident, and therefore can’t offer testimony as to the events surrounding the accident, and because they will be going up against an insurance company, which is in business to make as much money as possible while paying out as little as possible in benefits. Also, it is not uncommon for attorneys for insurance companies to try to undervalue the support which a worker was giving to his or her family in order to reduce the amount of benefits which must be paid out. This is why working with an attorney is so important. A benefits attorney will be able to help the surviving members of a deceased worker’s family go up against the insurance company to ensure the rights of the survivors remain intact and that they have the best chance possible of receiving all of the benefits owed.

About the Author Tony Adderley has been working as a professional advocate for
individuals entitled to Social Security Disability (SSD) and worker’s
compensation benefits for more than 20 years.