If an employee in the state of California dies as a result of a workplace injury or illness, his or her family may be entitled to death benefits under California workers’ compensation law. Generally, the state pays death benefits to the deceased worker’s spouse, children, or other dependents.

California Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Attorneys

The attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel have many years of experience successfully handling workers’ compensation cases for injured workers in California. In addition to representing clients who have suffered a work-related injury or illness, our attorneys are skilled and experienced at handling workers’ compensation death benefit cases. Contact our office today to set up a consultation to meet with one of our lawyers and learn more about the compensation that you may be entitled to in a workers’ compensation death benefits case.

What Types of Benefits Are Available for Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Cases?

The first benefit available to families who have lost a loved one due to a work-related accident or illness is compensation for funeral expenses. Under California law, the deceased employee’s employer is responsible for paying reasonable burial expenses.

However, there is a cap on what the employer is required to pay. For injuries before January 1, 2013, the employer is required to pay up to $5,000 for reasonable burial expenses. For injuries on or after January 1, 2013, the employer is responsible for paying up to $10,000 for these expenses.

In addition to burial expenses, the employer must also pay death benefits in the form of compensation to the financial dependents of the deceased worker. The exact amount that the employer will be required to pay depends on a few different variables. Typically, the amount paid out in compensation for death benefits depends on the number of total or partial dependents that the deceased worker had.

In cases involving one or more completely dependent minors, death benefits will continue to be paid out until the youngest minor turns 18 years of age. Disabled minors can receive benefits for life. Generally, death benefits are paid out at the rate used for total temporary disability, subject to a minimum of $224.00 per week.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Death Benefits After Someone Dies from a Work Injury?

The purpose of death benefits is to help provide compensation for the deceased worker’s survivors and family members who depended on that worker for financial support. You do not necessarily need to be the spouse or child of the deceased worker to be eligible for these benefits.

Eligibility for workers’ compensation death benefits depends on whether you were partially or totally dependent on the deceased worker for financial support at the time of their injury. You must also either be a member of the deceased worker’s household or their close relative. This means that spouses, children (including stepchildren), parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews of the deceased employee could potentially be eligible for benefits.

Typically, to be considered a total financial dependent of the deceased individual, you must either be a minor child under the age of 18, an adult child who is mentally or physically disabled and cannot earn a living, or a spouse who earns less than $30,000 per year.

How Are Death Benefits Calculated for More Than One Dependent?

Assuming the injury that resulted in the injured worker’s death occurred after 2005, if there is just one total dependent, that dependent will receive $250,000 in compensation. Two total dependents will share a sum of $290,000, and if there are three or more total dependents, they will equally share a sum of $320,000.

Partial dependents could receive death benefits if there were no more than one total dependent. In cases in which there are no total dependents, the partial dependents will split an amount equal to eight times the amount they received in annual support from the deceased worker—up to a maximum of $250,000.

If there was one total dependent, but also one or more partial dependent, then the total dependent will receive $250,000 and the partial dependents will get four times the amount of the annual support they received up to a total of $290,000. If there was one total dependent and one or more partial dependent, then the total dependent will receive $250,000, and the partial dependents will get four times the amount of the annual support they received up to a total of $290,000. If there are more than one partial dependents, the total benefit received will be divided up between the dependents in proportion to their financial dependency on the deceased employee.

If you were injured at work, you may have a right to compensation. With over 20 years of experience, we have a thorough understanding of workers compensation law and a deep commitment to the rights of working people. Contact Kneisler & Schondel today at (707) 542-5132 or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help you.

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