Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides workers who become injured or ill on the job with benefits. All New York City employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. When workers die in a workplace accident or from an occupational illness, their surviving family members may be eligible for death benefits through workers’ compensation. Death benefits include weekly income replacement payments and a specified amount you help with funeral costs.
Discuss Your Death Benefits Case with a Staten Island Attorney
If your loved one has died due to a work-related injury or illness, we recommend discussing your case with a death benefit attorney you can trust. Attorney Frank J. Dito understands how devastating the loss of a loved one can be. He will review your case carefully and counsel you about your options. Obtaining death benefits can help you and your loved ones as you move forward during this difficult time. Contact the Law Offices of Frank J. Dito today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Who Can Obtain Death Benefits?
The following family members can obtain death benefits from a worker who is killed on the job or due to a job-related illness:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Minor children
- Children under 23 who are attending college full-time
- Children of any age who are blind or legally disabled
In most cases, the deceased worker’s spouse, children, or grandchildren are the people who will receive the death benefits. If there are none, the worker’s parents, grandparents, or siblings may be entitled to benefits. If the deceased worker’s spouse has been divorced or has abandoned him or her before the death, the ex-spouse will not collect benefits.
In rare circumstances, other family members may qualify for death benefits if there is no spouse, dependent, or child, and they made additional criteria. Adopted minor children are entitled to death benefits. When there are no surviving dependents, $50,000 must be paid to the surviving parents. If there are no surviving parents, the money must be paid to the decedent’s estate.
Various factors contribute to how the deceased worker’s death payments will be divided among qualifying surviving family members. According to the New York statute, the death benefit payments will be divided among the worker’s closest surviving relatives. Over time, the division of benefits may change, resulting in a redistribution of the payments. Working with a workers’ compensation attorney who understands these types of claims and death can help you ensure that the distribution is fair and that all surviving family members obtain the benefits they deserve.
The Amount of Benefits
Multiple factors contribute to determining the amount of money a surviving family member can collect weekly. In most cases, the survivor’s total death benefit is two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage for the previous year. However, the total amount is subject to a maximum stop by the Workers’ Compensation Board. When the worker doesn’t have a prior year’s wages to review, the Workers’ Compensation Board will determine the amount of benefits based on a comparable worker’s wages within the industry.
If a worker dies due to a workplace illness or while on the job, the surviving spouse may be eligible to collect weekly payments for the rest of his or her life. There are exceptions, of course. A common exception is when the deceased worker’s spouse decides to remarry. In that case, the weekly payments will likely stop and will be replaced with a lump-sum payment of 2 years’ worth of death benefits. Eligible surviving family members are also entitled to funeral expenses. Currently, the Workers’ Compensation Board sets a schedule for funeral expenses that is currently up to $6,000.
Death of a Worker With an Existing Condition
In some situations, a worker who had been previously injured or suffered a job-related illness after receiving benefits will end up passing away due to that condition. In this case, the deceased worker’s next of kin must file a C-62 form with the Workers’ Compensation Board. They will also need to file a C-64 from the deceased worker’s treating medical doctor. The doctor must affirm that the worker’s cause of death was attributed to the condition that initiated the worker’s compensation claim. Finally, the funeral director involved in the case must file a C-65 form.
The Difference Between Death Benefits and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Death benefits are different from damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit. States began requiring businesses to implement workers’ compensation in part to forgo the costly and lengthy burden associated with wrongful death lawsuits. The eligible surviving family member must waive their right to sue for negligence in civil court to obtain death benefits. In exchange, the surviving family of the killed worker will be adequately compensated regardless of fault.
Even if the worker was partially or fully responsible for an on-the-job death, the surviving family could still pursue death benefits. To recover damages through a wrongful-death lawsuit, the deceased worker’s representative must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their death and subsequent damages. Suppose you are unsure whether you should pursue a wrongful death lawsuit or accept death benefits. In that case, we recommend discussing your case with attorney Frank J. Dito who will advise you of your best legal option for compensation.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Attorney Today
Trying to negotiate the process of obtaining death benefits through workers’ compensation can be challenging, especially while grieving the loss of your loved one. If you’ve recently lost a loved one to a workplace accident or because of a workplace illness, attorney Frank J. Dito is ready to help you during this difficult time. He works hard to manage your case from start to finish so you can focus on celebrating the life of your loved one. Contact the Law Offices of Frank J. Dito to discuss your case with an experienced Staten Island and Brooklyn death benefits attorney.