Workers Comp for a Fatal Injury in California

You may be surprised to learn just how often fatal injuries occur on-the-job. When they do, the family members of the deceased are often left suffering with the emotional trauma of the loss of a family member so unexpectedly. More than that, they are also left dealing with the financial ramifications of such an unexpected loss. We spoke to one wrongful death lawyer in Riverside to learn more about what happens when an employee endures a fatal injury at work in California.

We should start out by clarifying that not all family members of the deceased will be entitled to death benefits upon the passing of a relative due to a work injury. In fact, only family members who were financially dependent on the decedent will be able to collect death benefits. Some of these family members could include children, spouses, grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts, and nieces and nephews. 

Any children who are under the age of 18, spouses earning less than $30,000 annually, and adult children who are unable to earn a living due to physical or mental incapacity are immediately considered dependents of the deceased and are therefore entitled to death benefits when a fatal work injury occurs. 

In order to obtain death benefits, the eligible surviving family members will need to file a claim within one year of the decedent’s passing and no more than 240 weeks after the fatal injury occurred. Once the claim has been approved, the eligible surviving family members can begin collecting their benefits shortly thereafter. 

Death benefits in California are complex. First, it should be noted that they are disbursed in installments. The total amount of death benefits that the insurer will pay will be based upon how many dependents the decedent had. For example, if there was only one dependent, the insurer would pay installments totalling $250,000. But, if the decedent had three or more dependents, the insurer would need to pay $320,000 in death benefits. 

Children under the age of 18 can continue to collect installment death benefits even after the maximum benefit rate has been reached at the temporary disability rate until they become of legal age. 

Additionally, the insurance company will be expected to cover medical expenses relating to the decedent’s fatal injury, as well as funeral and burial expenses of the deceased, amounting to no more than $10,000.

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