Fatal Work Accidents And Workers’ Compensation
In addition to the emotional devastation of losing a loved one who has been fatally injured at work, the surviving family members are often responsible for paying the pricey medical bills, funeral expenses, and other costs associated with the tragic accident.
If the deceased worker was the sole breadwinner of the family, the sudden loss of income can put an enormous amount of financial pressure on the surviving family members. Fortunately, workers’ compensation can provide much-needed financial relief to the survivors of a fatal work accident.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there were 154 fatal work accidents in Pennsylvania in 2019. These tragic accidents were caused by falls, slips and trips, exposure to hazardous substances, violence, contact with objects and equipment, and fires and explosions.
When a worker does not survive a workplace accident, his or her dependents may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation death benefits.
The following family members qualify as dependents in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Children under the age of 18
- Children under the age of 23, if the child is enrolled in school full-time
- Children who have physical or emotional disabilities
- Parents, if they were financially dependent upon the deceased worker
- Siblings who are under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if enrolled in school full-time, and are unable to support themselves due to a disability
Benefits Available To Surviving Family
The exact amount of death benefits dependents can expect to receive depends on a number of factors, including the deceased worker’s average weekly salary, and how many dependents there are. In most cases, the surviving spouse would receive 51% of the deceased worker’s pre-injury average weekly wage. This amount would increase if the couple have children.
For example, if there is one dependent child, the death benefit would increase to 60 percent of the average weekly wage. If there are two or more children, the amount increases to 66 2/3%.
Before collecting the benefits, the surviving spouse must provide proof that he or she was married to the deceased worker at the time of death. Once the benefits are distributed, the surviving spouse will continue to receive the payments for as long as he or she lives, or until he or she remarries.
Important Deadlines To Keep In Mind
While it is difficult to think about anything other than the loss that you and your family have suffered, it is important that your spouse’s employer is notified of his or her death as soon as possible. This will ensure that the necessary paperwork is filed so that the insurance company can process the death benefits.
Once the employer is notified of the fatality, they have three days to file a First Report of Injury with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyer who can walk you through the claims process, and secure the benefits you deserve.
We Help Secure Death Benefits For Victims Of Fatal Work Accidents
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a tragic workplace accident, you are urged to contact the Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert, P.C. We understand how devastating it is to lose someone so suddenly, and the fear and uncertainty you might be feeling about how you will manage financially.
Our dedicated and compassionate team will secure the maximum financial benefits you and your family are entitled to, and the peace of mind you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 412-506-9561 or contact us online. We are located in Pittsburgh, where we proudly serve clients in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and throughout Western Pennsylvania.