Many people know of or are at least familiar with the way workers’ compensation works. When an employee is injured on the job, they may file a workers’ compensation claim in order to receive benefits. These benefits are intended to compensate injured workers for things like lost wages and medical expenses related to the workplace accident. But what happens when an employee is killed while on the job? Does workers’ compensation insurance cover the losses, or will a separate wrongful death lawsuit need to be filed by the surviving family members?

The unexpected loss of a loved one can seem impossible to grasp, especially when it was caused by an entirely preventable accident (and at their place of employment, nonetheless). If your loved one’s death occurred while on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits, a wrongful death lawsuit, or both. Our Inland Empire workers’ compensation attorneys at Jones Legal, Inc can help you navigate your claim and recover fair compensation for the devastating losses you’ve experienced. Call today to learn more.

Workplace Death Claim vs. Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When someone files a workers’ compensation claim after receiving injuries at work, there is no burden required to prove another’s negligence in the matter.  Generally, sustaining an injury while performing one’s duties is enough to receive benefits through workers’ comp insurance. The same applies for family members wishing to file a workers’ comp death claim on behalf of their deceased loved one.

For personal injury cases in civil court, however, someone else’s negligence must be proven in order to obtain damages. The same is also true for wrongful death claims filed through civil court. So, if a person’s death was the result of a workplace accident, the family does not need to prove another party’s negligence in order to obtain workers’ comp death benefits. However, if they wish to pursue a wrongful death claim following the same fatal accident, they must be able to prove the negligence of a third party in order to successfully recover damages.

Take construction sites, for example. If a worker is killed in a construction accident while performing their duties, the family can file for workers’ compensation death benefits, but they cannot sue the employer themselves. However, if the death was the result of malfunctioning construction equipment, for instance, a wrongful death lawsuit against the equipment manufacturer may also be warranted.

Work-Related Death Claim FAQs

Under California law, any family member who relied on the deceased worker financially at the time of their death may be entitled to death benefits. Eligible parties include surviving spouses or domestic partners, children, siblings, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and any other dependents of the deceased.

However, as for a wrongful death claim in California, only the surviving spouse/domestic partner or children may file suit. If the deceased left no surviving partner or children, the surviving parents or siblings may bring a claim (if applicable).

Like with a typical workplace injury claim, California’s workers’ compensation system generally allows one (1) year for surviving family members to file a workers’ compensation death claim. (This time may be shortened or extended under certain circumstances.) As this isn’t a significant amount of time, it is important that you obtain the help of an experienced attorney right away to ensure you meet these strict deadlines.

Workplace death benefits should provide financial relief to deceased employees' dependents as well as cover all funeral and burial expenses. However, in California, benefits are determined based on the number of dependents and whether the dependent is a partial dependent or total dependent. Generally, the benefit amount averages between $250,000 - $320,000. Benefits may increase if the deceased employee was a government employee. Additionally, there is a benefit maximum of $10,000 for funeral/burial expenses.

In comparison, wrongful death claims can cover both economic damages and non-economic damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life partner, and more. There is also no cap on wrongful death claim damages.

It is an incredible tragedy when you lose a loved one suddenly, and in the wake of the emotions you feel following their passing, it can be hard to think about fighting for proper compensation. In many cases, however, such a loss can take a huge financial toll on families. It’s important that surviving family members obtain the compensation they need to recover.

Unfortunately, countless families are left without the benefits they need to move on and make a full financial recovery. That is why it is important to obtain the help of an attorney experienced in California workers’ compensation law. At Jones Legal, Inc, we focus on protecting our clients' legal rights to compensation and helping them take full advantage of the benefits provided to them by law.

Work-Related Death Lawyer Serving Riverside, CA and Surrounding Areas

The lawyers at Jones Legal, Inc work tirelessly for both victims of work-related injuries and their loved ones in the event of their untimely passing. Our Inland Empire workers’ comp attorneys will ensure justice is received for you and your family, whether that’s through a workers’ comp death claim, a wrongful death lawsuit, or both. Let us fight for you.

For aggressive representation, give our law firm a call at (951) 742-7213 and schedule your consultation today.