Tragedy & Workers’ Comp

Tragedy & Workers’ Comp

Posted By Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith, P.C.

Tragedy can strike at the most unexpected moments, and we never know when
a loved one might leave home for work and never return. We have all seen
and heard tragic stories on the news: a crane accident, a kitchen explosion,
a fatal car crash, etc. While work place injuries that result in someone’s
death are incredibly traumatic to the family and friends of the decedent,
they can also impacts coworkers who have lost a colleague. Although certain
circumstances allow a coworker who witnesses the death of a fellow employee
to be compensated, we explain if
workers’ compensation benefits are available for surviving family members after the death of a loved one.

Workers’ Comp Law in Pennsylvania

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, surviving family
members of an employee who was killed at work can receive benefits. Although
these benefits are typically paid to a widow/widower and surviving minor
children, the Act also provides potential benefits for surviving dependent
parents or siblings.

How Soon Are Benefits Available?

Immediate family like the spouse and children of the deceased are first
entitled to benefits. If there are no children, a spouse will receive
51% of the decedent’s average weekly pay. These benefits will continue
until the surviving spouse also dies or remarries. In some circumstances,
insurance companies will attempt to establish that the surviving spouse
has entered into a “meretricious relationship” and will seek
to terminate benefits. If the surviving spouse’ living situation
is similar to that of a marriage, the ongoing death benefits might be
put in jeopardy. Additionally, if a surviving spouse decides to remarry,
there is a provision in the Workers’ Compensation Act to pay a “dower”
to complete the payments of benefits, despite the new marriage.

If the widow/widower has children, the amount of benefits that can be awarded
to surviving family members increases to 60% of the average weekly wage.
The Act provides that surviving children receive benefits up to their 18th birthday. However, if they continue to be dependent and can establish
that they are attending an accredited institution of higher learning,
benefits can continue to be distributed until they turn 23.

When there is no surviving widow or widower, there may be a dependent child
surviving the worker. In this situation, a sole surviving child will receive
32% of the deceased’s average weekly wage. If the deceased has more
children, that amount increases. When an
injured worker dies and leaves behind dependent children, even those from outside a formal
marriage, the Act provides benefits for the surviving children as well.
Children born outside of a marriage can receive benefits if it can be
established that they were dependent on the decedent for financial support.
This even applies to dependent children who live in another country and
who were supported by the worker’s earnings from a job in the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania.

If the deceased worker does not leave behind a spouse or children, other
family members might be entitled to benefits as well. Survivor benefits
can be paid to a father or mother of the deceased worker if it can be
established that they were dependent on the employee at the time of their
death. An example of this would be if the deceased employee provided financial
support to their parents for expenses like rent, food, and utilities.
Courts have determined that if surviving parents can prove they depended
on financial support from the deceased worker in order to meet their ongoing
living expenses, benefits can be awarded.

Talk to Our Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Lawyers

Have you lost a loved one in a work place accident? Our skilled lawyers
our here to help you through this difficult time. We will guide you through
your claim and ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.
Let us secure the compensation you are entitled to.

Call {F:P:Site:Phone} to set up your appointment
today.

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