Benefits for Dependents and Heirs
Although some injured workers make a full recovery, some are not as lucky and ultimately succumb to their injuries. Fortunately, the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits does not end when a worker loses his or her life. Instead, when an employee dies due to a work-related illness or injury, the employee’s dependents often can recover workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to harm sustained at work, it is advisable to consult a skillful attorney to discuss whether you may be eligible to recover benefits for dependents and heirs. The New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you on whether you may be able to pursue benefits and other steps that you can take to protect your interests.Benefits for Dependents and Heirs
When a person dies due to work-related harm, his or her dependents may be eligible to recover benefits. Initially, as with all New Jersey workers’ compensation claims, the person seeking benefits must establish that the deceased person was an employee and that he or she suffered an injury or illness during the scope and course of his or her employment. The person must then establish that he or she is a dependent as defined by the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law.
People alleging that they are dependents are divided into two categories: those who are conclusively presumed to be dependents and those who must prove that they are actual dependents. If the deceased worker had natural children or a spouse who resided in the same household as the deceased worker at the time of his or her death, they are conclusively presumed to be dependents under the law. A child will remain a dependent until he or she turns 18, unless the child is a full-time student, in which case he or she will remain a dependent until the age of 23, or unless the child is disabled, in which case the benefits may continue past the age of majority. If the deceased worker had a spouse or children who were not living with him or her at the time of the death, and they allege that they are dependents, they must prove actual dependency. Similarly, any parents, siblings, grandparents, or grandchildren of the deceased person who claim to be dependents must prove actual dependency as well.Benefits Recoverable Following a Work-Related Death
In cases in which it is unclear whether a person is a dependent, a workers’ compensation judge will hold a hearing to determine dependency. If dependency is conclusively established, benefits are calculated at a rate of 70% of the deceased worker’s weekly wage, subject to the maximum set annually by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. If there is more than one dependent, a judge in the Division of Workers’ Compensation will determine the proportion of benefits to be paid to each dependent, based on evidence of his or her relative dependency. Payments to minor dependents will be made to their parent or guardian. If a dependent is a surviving spouse, he or she will receive benefits for the remainder of his or her life, or until he or she remarries. Other dependents will receive benefits for 450 weeks, unless at the end of the 450-week period, a child is under the age of 18, in which case the child will continue to receive benefits until he or she is 18 years old, or 23 years old if he or she is a full-time student. Dependents may also recover the cost of funeral and burial expenses, up to $3,500.Speak with a Trusted New Jersey Attorney
Losing a loved one because of a work-related illness or injury not only causes emotional trauma but also can cause significant financial strain. The workers’ compensation lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are proficient at navigating the process of recovering workers’ compensation benefits for dependents and heirs. We assist people in the pursuit of workers’ compensation death benefits throughout New Jersey, including in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, and Union Counties. We can be reached at 877-450-8301 or via the form online to schedule a free appointment.