Death benefits in a workers’ compensation claim include money paid to the dependent family members of a deceased employee. If your claim is approved, you can use this money to pay for your loved one’s funeral and for your own daily living expenses.
Seeking death benefits while mourning a loved one can be very challenging. Seek legal counsel sooner rather than later, as missing important deadlines could keep you from claiming your benefits.
How to Claim Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Filing for workers’ comp in California is a straightforward process, at least in theory. These steps are good best practices for beginning your workers’ compensation claim process.
Get Documentation Ready
If your loved one survived the initial injury, they probably sought medical treatment and told their doctor that the injury was work-related. These records may serve as valuable evidence for your claim.
If your loved one passed away before receiving treatment, a doctor’s exam or a coroner’s report can still establish a connection between their fatal injury and their job.
Tell the Employer
This is the first step to beginning a workers’ compensation claim. If your loved one did not get the chance to report the injury themselves, you can do so within thirty days of the injury.
In cases involving a fatal accident, the employer almost certainly already knows about your loved one’s injury. You should not, however, leave anything to chance: you want to establish as early and as clearly as possible that your loved one’s injury was work-related, and that the employer has an obligation to investigate the fatality.
To cover all of your bases, communicate your loved one’s passing and everything you know about the event in writing. Make a copy for yourself and give it to the employer.
File Your Claim
In many cases, the employer will file a claim with their insurance company on your behalf. They may still give you paperwork to fill out with information regarding the cause and the nature of your loved one’s injuries.
Feel free to seek assistance from an attorney at any point in the claims process. They can fill out paperwork, answer your questions, and even attend meetings with the insurer and/or the employer.
Deal with Disputes
In an ideal case, the insurance company will approve your claim with no trouble in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, real-life cases do not always work out that way.
If the insurer rejects or expresses doubts about your claim, a California workers’ comp lawyer can help you sort it out. This may involve:
- Informing the DWC that you object to the insurer’s conclusions
- Discussing the case directly with the insurer or negotiating with them for the benefits you deserve
- Presenting evidence before a judge who will decide the fate of your case
Disputes can be confusing and frustrating for the claimant, and they may take some time to resolve. It can be difficult to remain patient and to think logically in this scenario, but a workers’ compensation attorney can help to keep the process moving as smoothly as possible.
What Workers’ Comp Death Benefits Include
Death benefits in a workers’ compensation claim are generally divided into the following two categories:
Your loved one deserves to be laid to rest in the way they wanted, but honoring their last wishes can be prohibitively expensive. You could receive up to $10,000 for the costs of a burial, a casket, a funeral service, and other expenses.
The bulk of your payout will come from death benefits. The exact amount you can receive depends on how many dependents relied on the lost loved one for financial security, the age of the dependents, and whether any of the dependents is disabled. A lawyer can calculate what a fair amount may look like to:
- Ensure you have enough to support yourself and any minor dependents until the minors come of age
- Make sure the insurance company cannot get away with offering less than you are entitled to receive
- Properly compensate you for the loss of your loved one’s contributions to the family
It goes without saying that death benefits can never truly compensate a family for the unexpected passing of a beloved relative. However, workers’ compensation can cover your bills both now and in the future, allowing you to keep your focus where it belongs: on yourself and your family.
Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
There are many benefits to hiring a lawyer to help you with your workers’ compensation claim, including:
- Having someone you can trust to answer your questions about death benefits in a workers’ compensation claim
- Giving yourself more time to process your loved one’s passing while the law firm does all of the work
- Bringing in an “outsider’s perspective”—in other words, your lawyer can view your situation more objectively and offer advice on that basis
Finding the Right Attorney May Take Some Work
Remember, however, that not all lawyers are created equal. You will want to take the time to ensure that you hire the law firm that is right for you. Steps for hiring the right attorney include:
- Going online to research various firms or asking friends if they can recommend a firm
- Asking each lawyer specific questions about their experience and their record of success
- Taking advantage of the free case reviews given over the phone by workers’ compensation law firms
- Carefully reviewing and asking questions about the firm’s contract before you sign it
When hiring an attorney, trust your instincts. If something about them feels “off,” or if you cannot get straight answers to your questions, look elsewhere. You have to be able to trust and rely on your workers’ comp attorney, so do not sign on with a firm that does not make you feel comfortable.
We Can Fight for Your Death Benefits
Death benefits in a workers’ compensation claim are an essential source of support for families after the sudden passing of a loved one. KJT Law Group wants to help your family pursue the money you need and protect your rights throughout the process. Contact or call (818) 507-8525 to get started today.