When misfortune strikes in the workplace resulting in the loss of life, there are few words that can express the inconsolable sadness felt by all those involved. We know this is a very difficult time, and planning for the future seems impossible in light of the present tragedy.

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC are here to help you in every way we can so you can grieve your loss while we help ease the financial burdens you face.

The loss of a loved one due to a workplace accident will create a gap in family earnings. The widows and widowers of the deceased are generally entitled to two-thirds of their spouse’s lost wages. If the deceased has left behind children, they too are entitled to benefits up to the age of 21, unless they attend college, in which case they are entitled to benefits up to the age of 25.

One reason for workers’ comp is the benefit of forgoing lengthy and costly civil litigations, such as wrongful death actions. New York law allows wrongful death claims to be filed through the state’s workers’ compensation system by family survivors of all qualified working employees. They may be filed by a surviving spouse, a child, or the deceased’s estate. Most times, spousal benefits are also available to unmarried co-habitating partners who have no children. A parent of a legally employed worker also may file a “no-dependency” claim in order to seek compensation for their son’s or daughter’s funeral or burial services.

All of the above programs are administered by a New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. When a worker is injured on the job, there is no allocation of fault (except in the instance of intoxication on the job). Benefits the claimant receives are not impacted by a degree of fault for the accident by the worker or employer. When an injured worker files a claim that is determined to be a result of a work-related accident or illness, it is typically paid. If disputes arise about whether the injury is actually work related, a judge rules on the matter.

Nor do you have to die on the job for your survivors to have a claim. If your death can be clearly anticipated after the injury that occurs or the illness you contract at work, your beneficiaries can seek compensation for your anticipated death. Examples of this can involve contracting a serious illness after being exposed to toxic substances on the job, or suffering a catastrophic brain injury from a workplace accident that places you in a coma, on life support, with no hope of recovery.

Amount of Benefits

The amount is calculated based on the deceased’s average weekly wages for the preceding year. The Average Weekly Wage (AWW) for purposes of workers’ compensation is the worker’s  total earnings from the previous year divided by 52. In cases where the worker does not have a year’s prior wages to review, the State Workers’ Comp Board determines the benefit based on a comparable worker’s wages within the industry.

No-Dependency Awards & Funeral Benefits

If the parents are the lone remaining relative of the deceased employee, a one-time “no dependency” award is payable to them. This amount is around $50,000 plus a maximum of $6,000 allocated for funeral expenses.

Death of a Claimant with an Existing Condition

There are situations when those who have been previously injured or who have suffered a job-related illness and are receiving benefits will die from their condition. Here, the next of kin must file a Form C-62 with the Board, in addition to a Form C-64 being submitted from the deceased’s treating physician. The purpose of the doctor-submitted C-64 form is to affirm that the employee’s death was attributed to the condition associated with the compensation claim. In addition, a form known as a C-65 must be completed by the funeral director associated with the disposition of the employee’s remains.

Contact Us

At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we realize how tough it is to focus on legal issues during an emotional time like losing a loved one. This is why you are urged to call our workers’ compensation lawyers so we can relieve you of some of the duties arising from your emotional ordeal. Contact us at 516-399-2364 or fill out our online contact form to arrange a free consultation as soon as you are able. No fees are charged if we’re not successful in securing the benefits you deserve. Nor can words adequately express our sympathy, but we are here to serve you and assist your family in any way we can.