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What Happens if a Worker Dies While Pursuing Workers’ Comp Benefits?

funeral with coffinSometimes workplace injuries are so severe the victim does not survive. He or she may die at the scene of the accident or survive for weeks or months before passing away.

Below, the attorneys at Berry, Smith & Bartell discuss claims for death benefits under workers’ compensation. For assistance with your potential claim, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today.

Death Benefits in California

In California, those who depended on a deceased worker to provide financial support may be eligible to receive death benefits via workers’ compensation. Death benefits provide compensation for burial expenses as well as cash benefits to make up for the loss of the worker’s financial support.

Who is Eligible for Benefits?

Workers’ compensation death benefits are paid to a deceased worker’s total and partial dependents.

Total dependents include:

  • The deceased worker’s spouse, if he or she earns $30,000 or less in the 12-month period prior to death
  • Children under the age of 18

Partial dependents could include:

  • Children, including stepchildren and adopted children
  • Spouses
  • Siblings
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Nieces
  • Nephews
  • In-laws

How Much are Benefits Worth?

Death benefits under California’s workers’ compensation system are as follows:

  • Up to $10,000 paid for burial costs for injuries which took place from January 1, 2013 on
  • Between $250,000 and $320,000 for the deceased workers dependents

The total amount paid in death benefits to dependents depends on how many people claim to have received support from the deceased worker.

  • One dependent could receive $250,000
  • If there is one dependent and one or two partial dependents, the total dependent would receive $250,000 and each partial dependent would receive $25,000.
  • If the deceased worker has two total dependents, no partial dependents may receive benefits. The two total dependents equally split a benefit of $290,000.
  • If there are three or more total dependents, each equally split a benefit of $320,000.

Death benefits are not paid in a lump sum. They are paid in installments in most cases, at the same weekly amount as the deceased worker’s temporary total disability rate. These payments will not be less than $224 per week.

In the case of minor children, payments continue until the youngest child reaches age 18 or an incapacitated child passes away.

If the workers’ compensation insurer still owed payments to the injured worker for medical costs, temporary disability or total disability at the worker’s time of death, those benefits must be paid to dependents. If the worker had no dependents, payments must be made to legal heirs or the deceased’s personal representative. Those eligible to receive these payments may be able to pursue payment of penalties associated with late payment of the worker’s benefits.

How Long do You Have to File a Claim?  

Partial and total dependents have up to one year to file for benefits following an employee’s death from work-related injury or illness. If the deceased worker’s employer paid compensation due to misconduct and the deceased passed away more than one year following the injury, dependents must file for death benefits within one year following the last payment of that type of compensation.

Contact Our Experienced Law Firm to Schedule a Free Legal Consultation

If your loved one was fatally injured in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to death benefits through workers’ compensation. Our Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys work to recover fair compensation for work injury victims and those who were dependent on an employee who died in a work accident.

Request a free, no-obligation consultation today. There are no upfront fees and you only pay us if we are successful in recovering compensation for you. We have more than 80 years of combined experience recovering compensation for California workers.

For a free case evaluation with Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation call 1-800-848-6288 today!

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