What Happens When a Loved One Dies in a Workplace Accident?
Most people understand the basic benefits available to workers who survive an injury on the job. However, some may need to know what happens when a loved one dies in a workplace accident. Are there benefits available to the family? Who pays the medical and funeral costs?
New Jersey law provides certain death benefits to the dependents of employees who die as a result of an accident at work. They are as follows:
- Funeral expenses up to $3500 to the estate or person liable for the bill
- Weekly benefits based on a percentage of the decedent’s wages up to a maximum
Since the weekly benefits are divided among the dependents, it is also crucial to understand whom the law considers as prospective surviving dependents. These include:
- Surviving spouse who relied on decedent for support and lived in household
- Natural or adopted children, who are under the age of 18
- Natural or adopted children, who are full time students and under age 23
- Children who are physically or mentally ill may qualify for extended benefits
- All other family members must prove actual dependency
Workers’ compensation dependency benefits are not available to the unmarried survivor of a committed relationship. Last year, the court ruled on this issue in its unpublished opinion, Kehoe v. Ultralum Enterprises. There was no dispute that the decedent, Scott Sunkimat died as a result of a workplace accident. He and Bobby Kehoe were involved in an eight-year relationship, but never married. Since New Jersey does not recognize common law marriage, Kehoe was not entitled to dependency benefits.
Death is never easy for the survivors. If you have lost a loved one to a work-related claim, it is important to speak with an attorney. The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has handled these types of claims for more than two decades. It is important to employ a legal advocate for these reasons:
- Determine whether the claim is viable. Was it as a result of a single accident or some type of occupational exposure?
- Work with the insurance company on your behalf to determine all available benefits
- Determine who is entitled to survivor benefits
Please call our office to discuss your rights under this type of claim. There is no cost for our meeting and we are paid at the court’s discretion at the end of the case.