Fatal Claims Lawyer
When we think about the workers’ compensation system, many of us consider situations in which an injured worker needs to file for benefits after sustaining a traumatic injury on the job or suffering from a work-related illness. However, many work-related injuries and illnesses can be fatal, resulting in the death of the worker. In these situations, the worker’s family will be left without that worker’s income and benefits. It is important for families who have lost a loved one in a work-related accident or as a result of occupational disease that they may be eligible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are known as death benefits under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system, and they can include a percentage of the worker’s salary in addition to compensation for funeral expenses.
If your spouse or parent died from a work-related injury or illness in Wilkes Barre, you should get in touch with a fatal claims lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your family’s options for obtaining benefits through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.
Who Can Obtain Death Benefits
In general, workers’ compensation death benefits in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania may be available to a worker’s surviving spouse or children, as well as other dependents. In order for a spouse or surviving dependents to receive workers’ compensation death benefits, the worker’s fatal injury or disease must have arisen out of a work-related accident, incident, or illness. The same is true for workers’ compensation benefits when a worker survives an injury or illness—that injury or illness must be work-related.
In order for a fatal injury or disease to be work-related—thus making a spouse or dependents eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits—that injury or illness must have arisen out of the course of employment. What does this mean in practice? For example, the injury or illness must have occurred while the employee was working, or while the employee was engaged in some type of task for the employer. A majority of injuries or diseases that occur on a worksite typically will be considered work-related.
Some of the “gray areas” that often arise are injuries or illnesses that do not occur on worksites, such as when a worker is driving. In such cases, it will be essential to determine whether the injury or disease still arose out of the worker’s employment, or in the course of the worker’s employment. In terms of driving, if the worker’s job involves driving (such as deliveries), and the worker is making a delivery at the time of the accident that causes a fatal injury, then the injury likely will be considered work-related. However, if a worker is driving to a jobsite to get started on a project, that driving likely will not be considered work-related.
Amount of Compensation for Family Members
How much can a family member expect to receive in workers’ compensation benefits after a fatal injury or disease? The amount depends in part upon who is seeking the benefits. Generally speaking, a family member may be eligible to receive $3,000 in compensation for funeral expenses. A spouse seeking death benefits typically will receive 51 percent of the deceased worker’s weekly pay. If the spouse has a child dependent with the deceased, that benefit can increase to 60 percent. If there are two or more children, the benefit may increase to 67 percent.
Children who are dependents of the worker can also receive benefits until the age of 18, and certain children in a college or university may be eligible to obtain benefits until they reach the age of 23. In situations where the deceased worker has no spouse or dependent children, other dependents may be eligible for a smaller percentage of benefits.
Seek Advice from a Wilkes Barre Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have questions about workers’ comp and death benefits, a Wilkes Barre workers’ compensation lawyer at our firm can speak with you today. Contact the Figured Law Firm for more information.