If an employee dies from a work injury or illness, the dependents of the deceased worker such as a spouse, children, or any other dependents who relied on the worker for financial support are entitled to payments called “Death Benefits(1)”.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR DEATH BENEFITS?
The death benefit amount depends on the number of people who are totally and or partially depending on the deceased employee. Total dependents are individuals who completely relied on the worker for financial support, while partial dependents are individuals who only partly relied on the worker for financial support.
In situation where one or more totally dependent are minors, after payment of amounts specified below, death benefits will continue until youngest minor’s 18th birthday. If the dependent minor is disabled then the minors should receive benefits for life. Death benefits are paid at the total temporary disability rate, but not less than $224.00 per week.
WHAT BENEFITS ARE DUE?
There are two types of benefits available for those who qualify as dependents: burial expenses and death benefits.
The death benefits should include reasonable burial expenses. For injuries that took place before January 1, 2013, the maximum amount was $5,000, and for injuries that took place on January 1, 2013, or thereafter the maximum burial expense amount was doubled to $10,000.
HOW MUCH IS THE DEATH BENEFIT?
Death benefits are a lump sum payment, and the total payment amount is determined by the number of total and partial dependents. For injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2006, the following amounts are paid out: $250,000 for one total dependent, $290,000 for two total dependents, and $320,000 for three or more total dependents. Further amounts are awarded when there are partial dependents who are eligible to receive benefits. However, partial dependents can receive death benefits only if there are no total dependents or there is only one total dependent. In these cases, the total dependent gets the full amount of the award described above, and partial dependents get four times the annual amount that they received in support from the worker subject to a maximum set by law.
OVERDUE DISABILITY BENEFITS:
If the deceased worker is owed temporary disability, permanent disability benefits, mileage, or out of pocket expenses that accrued during his or her lifetime, the surviving relatives may be able to recover these amounts as well. In this case, the unpaid amounts would go to the worker’s estate. The surviving estate beneficiaries are those who are entitled to the worker’s estate, either by a written trust, will or by law. Any delay of such payment by the insurance company in making these payments to the worker’s surviving heirs can possibly cause penalties to be paid by the insurance company to the surviving heirs.
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