Did You Lose A Loved One In A Workplace Accident?
Our law firm can help you claim workers' compensation death benefits
The loss of a loved one is always a difficult moment in anyone's life, especially when that death happened due to an on-the-job accident. You're left to recover from the shock of a sudden loss, mourn another person's passing, and try to find a way to move forward.
In Pennsylvania, the workers' compensation system provides some amount of financial relief to grieving families. These death benefits are intended to provide for those left behind who were dependent on the deceased person's income. However, actually claiming those benefits can be difficult. That's why you need an experienced and compassionate workers' compensation attorney from O'Malley & Langan on your side.
A brief guide to death benefits in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania's workers' compensation laws, two types of death benefits can be paid out following an on-the-job death. The first benefit is a flat $3,000 funeral benefit, paid to the family of the deceased person. The second is a weekly or bi-weekly benefit based on the worker's wages at the time of death. Depending on the relationship and number of dependents, this may be anywhere from one fifth to two thirds of the pre-death wages.
Only certain family members can be awarded these death benefits. They include:
- Surviving spouse: The deceased person's spouse may be awarded a percentage of the pre-death wages, which varies depending on the number of children left in the custody of the surviving spouse. Generally, benefits continue for the remainder of the spouse's lifetime unless he or she remarries, at which point they continue until two years after the date of remarriage.
- Children: Children of the deceased worker are eligible to receive benefits until they reach the age of 18. These benefits can be extended until the age of 23 if the child is enrolled at an accredited college or university, or for the length of disability if the child is disabled.
- Other relatives: If there is no surviving spouse or children, the parents of the deceased worker can claim benefits if they lived with or were dependent on the worker at the time of death. If there are also no eligible parents, siblings can receive the death benefits, again if they lived with or were dependent on the worker as of the time of death.
While many factors affect the value of a claim for death benefits - including the worker's income and the number of dependents - these claims are almost always high-value. Unfortunately, that means that your family may be facing a difficult battle with a workers' compensation insurance carrier during this sad and challenging time.
Claiming death benefits is a complex process. Our attorneys can help
In order to be eligible for death benefits, the surviving family members need to prove that their loved one died on the job and that they really were dependent on his or her income. Either point can be a contentious issue, and the insurance company will try to find ways to deny benefits based on those points of fact.
When death benefits are paid out over time, many different factors can affect the value and length of those benefits. For instance, if the surviving spouse remarries, benefits that could have otherwise continued for decades will come to an end after two years. If dependent children enroll in or drop out of college, those changes in enrollment status would likewise affect the benefits.
Because of those issues, many cases involving death benefits settle fairly quickly for a lump sum payment. Both the surviving family and the insurance company often have an interest in doing so. However, to make sure you receive a fair settlement that meets your family's needs, you need an experienced workers' compensation lawyer on your side.
Our compassionate and experienced attorneys serve families throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. When you contact us, we can help you create a legal strategy to pursue the death benefits you deserve. If a negligent third party was involved in your loved one's death, we may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim in addition to getting death benefits through workers' compensation.
We know you may not want to involve an attorney during this difficult time - but we also know you shouldn't have to face the insurance company alone. Make sure you know your family's legal rights. Call (866) 326-0100 today for your free, confidential consultation.