What Happens When a Loved One Dies in a Work Accident?
It’s never an easy thing to lose a loved one. But, what happens when the death is due to a work accident? Are there benefits available? Who is eligible?
The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects important data regarding workers across the country. According to their records, almost 5,000 work-related fatalities occurred in 2014. Many of these individuals left behind families who depended on the decedent’s income to survive. Fortunately, New Jersey law provides for those loved ones. Read on to learn about a claim for dependency benefits.
Dependency Benefits for Work-related Fatalities
Unfortunately, there are a number of ways that someone can die while on the job. A professional driver might succumb to injuries from a fatal automobile accident. Someone on a construction site could get electrocuted. Perhaps there is evidence that some long time chemical exposure caused the decedent’s death. In select cases, a heart attack could prove to be work-related.
Before we go on to explain death benefits available through New Jersey workers’ compensation law, we have a reminder. We’ve written before about third party actions. We’ve also talked about wrongful death claims. If it can be proven that someone else was liable for the decedent’s accidental death, the dependents may have an additional claim. It is important to discuss the case with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine all facets of the case. In the meantime, let’s explain death benefits for work-related fatalities:
Burial and Funeral Expenses: Even if the decedent did not have dependents, burial and funeral expenses are available from the workers’ compensation insurance company. The maximum amount paid is $3500. It is payable to the dependent or as reimbursement to any other individual who paid for the burial and funeral expenses. Proof of the expenses must be submitted. If the burial and funeral expenses were less than $3500, only the amount paid will be eligible. Payments may also be made directly to the funeral home.
Dependents Eligible for Benefits: Who was dependent on the deceased at the time of the death? If dependency can be demonstrated by any of the following family members, they may be eligible to receive dependency death benefits if they were part of the decedent’s household at the time of death:
- Surviving spouse
- Parents, stepparents, grandparents
- Children or stepchildren under the age of 18, or up to 23, if enrolled as full-time students
- Siblings and half-siblings
- Nieces and nephews
Amount of Dependency Benefits: Dependency benefits are based on 70% of the decedent’s average gross weekly wages at the time of death. There are minimum and maximum amounts available depending on the year of the accident.
Surviving Spouses of Police Officers or Fire Departments: Different rules apply to dependents of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of the duty.