Death and Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation exists to help make sure that an employee who sustains a work-related injury receives appropriate compensation for the injury, as well as reimbursement for medical costs required to treat or cure the injury.  In the optimal circumstance, the injury will be minor, easy to treat, and the employee will be able to return to work soon.  Unfortunately, not all work-related injuries are minor, and there are some cases where the employee dies as a result of the work-related injury.

In the typical workers’ compensation case, the injured employee is the one seeking workers’ compensation benefits.  If the employee dies as a result of the work-related injury, the family members will be the ones to file for workers’ compensation benefits.  A family member of the deceased employee is eligible to file for death benefits in workers’ compensation if he or she was totally or partially dependent on the deceased employee for financial support at the time the employee sustained the injury that resulted in death.  The person filing for benefits also needs to show that he or she was a member of the employee’s household or was at least a close relative of the employee.  Common examples of qualifying family members include spouses, children, and parents of the deceased.  California law automatically assumes that certain people were totally dependent on the employee, including minor children, adult children who are unable to earn their own living due to physical or mental incapacity, or a surviving spouse who earned less than $30,000 in the twelve months before the employee’s death.  If a family member does not meet these requirements, he or she will have to provide evidence to the court that he or she meets the requirements under California law.

The amount of death benefits that will be received depends on the number of eligible dependents the deceased employee had.  If the employee had one dependent, death benefits will be $250,000.  Two dependents will result in $290,000 in benefits, and three or more dependents will mean $320,000 in death benefits.  If there were two or more dependents, the benefits will be equally split between all the dependents.

If you have questions about your business and workers’ compensation, let us answer them.  Contact us today for an appointment to talk about your business.

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