Death benefits are payments to dependents of an injured worker due to an industrial injury or accident. Dependents may also be entitled to reasonable burial expenses.
The injured worker must have died from a work-related injury or illness in order for the workers’ dependents to collect benefits. The amount of benefits depends on the amount of total or partial dependents.
A dependent can be the spouse or child of the injured worker. A good faith member of the household is also entitled to death benefits. If the member of the household can show that they relied and depended on the income that the decedent provided, the dependent will be entitled to death benefits.
There are certain legal presumptions as to who qualifies as a dependent. One legal presumption is that a child of the decedent that is younger than 18 years old or among any age who is discovered to be physically or psychologically incapacitated from earning will qualify as a dependent.
Another legal presumption is a spouse to who the decedent was married at the time made $30,000 or less in the twelve months immediately preceding the fatality.
If you do not fall within the legal presumptions provided by the Labor Code, you must prove dependency.
You do not necessarily have to be a full dependent to collect death benefits. There are two levels of dependency. There is a full dependency which is someone who relies on the decedent’s income in full as support. There is also a partial dependent who is someone that partially relied on the decedent’s income for support.
There can be conflicts that arise due to conflicting interests between dependents, thus, it is wise to hire a workers compensation attorney.
On the other hand, if the decedent has no dependents, the money will go to the state.
Industrial Nature of Injury
The cause of death of an injured worker must be industrial in order for the dependent to collect benefits. For example, it is obvious that dependents who seek to collect benefits after an injured worker dies instantly after falling off a roof at work will qualify.
However, the industrial nature of death is not always so readily discernible.
The question as to the cause of death may arise when an ongoing workers compensation claim for orthopedic injury results in death. For example, an injured worker may have an open claim for a work-related ankle injury. While the claim was ongoing, the injured worker may have died from liver cirrhosis which is a chronic disease of the liver. Most alcoholics develop this disease. A layman’s first inclination would be that the death is unrelated to the work injury. However, this is where it would benefit an injured worker’s dependents to hire a Workers Compensation attorney. A Workers Compensation Attorney would assist in linking the death to the industrial causation. As long as you can show that the death was accelerated due to industrial injury, the case is valid. A Workers Compensation Attorney is well-versed in the topic and would assist in obtaining medical reports and other items in order for dependents to collect maximum benefits.
Burial expenses vary depending on the date of injury of the applicant. For the date of injuries before January 1, 2013, dependents are eligible for reasonable burial expenses not exceeding $5,000. For dates of injury after January 1, 2013, dependents are entitled to burial expenses up to $10,000.
Payment of Benefits
The number of death benefits collected hinges on the number of dependents and the level of dependency. Based on current legislation, one dependent can collect up to $250,000 and multiple dependents can collect up to $320,000. However, there are certain circumstances where a dependent can collect more money. For example, a minor can collect ⅔ of the decedent’s salary until 18 years old. Also, a dependent that is mentally or physically incapacitated can collect ⅔ of the decedent’s salary for their full lifespan.
Statute of Limitations
Make sure to contact a workers compensation attorney immediately as death claims are barred from filing 240 weeks from the date of death.
Contact a workers compensation attorney for a free consultation on your claim, https://keshlaw.com/