Death Benefits Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
It’s hard enough to lose a loved one when you expect it to come, but when their death is the result of an accident or injury that occurred on the job it can be even harder. When this happens, the family of the deceased is entitled to workers’ compensation and this includes filing a death benefits claim. This process can be complicated and it’s crucial it’s completed correctly so you and your family get the compensation you deserve.
If you need help filing a workers’ comp death claim or have any questions about getting death benefits through workers’ comp, give us a call at H. Rosen Law, P.C. for compassionate legal guidance. We’re able to help those in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg, and Scranton.
Overview of Workers' Compensation in Pennsylvania
The vast majority of Pennsylvania companies are required to provide workers’ comp benefits for their employees with only a few exceptions. When used, workers’ comp in Pennsylvania pays out for:
Medical expenses for injuries or illnesses that occur on the job.
Depending on the nature and severity of the illness or injury, workers' comp can also pay out for full or partial disability or ongoing care expenses for those who need rehabilitation.
Eligibility for Death Benefits
Of course, no injury is desirable when you’re at work, but with workers’ comp, you should receive the compensation you need to recover and get back to work without too much disruption. However, there are others who may lose their life as the result of an accident or injury and the family will undoubtedly want to know who qualifies to apply for death benefits. If you have a family member who was covered by a workers’ comp plan, you may be eligible to receive death benefits on their behalf. However, this benefit doesn’t apply to all family members and you’ll have to meet certain criteria. Some potential recipients will be:
Married to the deceased worker.
The child of the deceased worker who’s under 18 or one who suffers from a mental or physical disability.
A parent who was financially reliant on the deceased.
A minor sibling, a sibling under the age of 23 who’s in school, or a disabled sibling.
Calculation of Death Benefits
When calculating death benefits, especially the lost wage reimbursement, coverage will vary depending on the family member’s relationship with the deceased. For example:
If you’re the surviving spouse of the deceased worker and you have no children together you may receive 51% of the weekly wages for the rest of your life.
For a surviving spouse with children, you could receive 60% to 66⅔ % of the weekly wages.
A parent who was partially dependent on the deceased can claim 32% of their weekly average pay.
Children where there is no widow can receive anywhere from 23% to 66⅔% depending on how many kids there are. Most of these benefits will end when the child reaches the age of 18 or 23 if still enrolled in school.
Filing a Death Benefits Claim
A claim for death benefits must be made within three years of the date of death, though this should ideally be done much sooner, and an experienced Philadelphia workers' compensation attorney can help. Some of the required forms you may have to file include:
Agreement for Compensation for Death.
Supplemental Agreement for Compensation for Death.
Death Certificate or Coroner Report.
Types of Death Benefits
Depending on the family’s needs, benefits can include:
Burial Expenses: These are typically capped at $7,000.
Dependency Benefits: Dependency benefits will vary depending on the family member. In general, spouses almost always receive a benefit, and children receive a benefit only until they reach the age of majority or are still enrolled in school up to the age of 23.
Specific Loss Benefits: If the victim partially or totally lost the use of an appendage, they may be entitled to reimbursement for this.
Occupational Disease Benefits: These typically apply to diseases or illnesses that occur over a long time period and are associated with a specific line of work. An example would be asbestos exposure in jobs such as firefighting or construction work.
Contesting Death Benefits Claims
There are a few common reasons a death claim is denied, and you’ll have the opportunity to contest this decision. In most cases, both you and the employer have a right to contest within 20 days of the denial. You’ll do this by sending the appeal to the state supreme court along with an explanation of why you believe the decision was incorrect along with any supporting evidence.
Denial can occur for some of the following reasons:
The injury or cause of death doesn’t qualify under the state’s workers' comp law.
The employer disputed your claim.
Lack of evidence.
The correct reporting protocol wasn’t followed.
The accident occurred because of illegal activities (for example, the employee was intoxicated while at work.)
Death Benefits Attorney Serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you live in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area and have recently lost a loved one due to a workplace injury or illness, contact our team at H. Rosen Law, P.C. to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney about your options.