Workers compensation is meant to help victims and their families when an injury occurs on the job. What happens when an injury results in death? Pennsylvania workers compensation provides death benefits, including survivor benefits and funeral expenses. Our Pennsylvania workers compensation lawyers want you to understand the death benefits available to you when a death occurs in the workplace.
What Are Workers Compensation Death Benefits?
Workers compensation death benefits are payments that can be made when a person dies in the course of their employment. Payments are based on the worker’s income when the death occurs, subject to a minimum and a maximum amount.
Who Is Eligible for Death Benefits Under PA Workers Compensation?
The following people may receive death benefits under Pennsylvania workers compensation laws:
- Surviving spouse
- Minor children
- Children in school full-time up to age 23
- Dependent children of any age
- Financially-dependent parents
- Financially-dependent siblings
How are Pennsylvania workers compensation death benefits distributed among survivors?
There are rules for how to divide Pennsylvania workers compensation death benefits among survivors depending on what family members survive the victim. First, calculate the victim’s average weekly wage in the period leading up to the death. Then, that amount is divided among survivors as follows:
- Spouse, but no children:
- 51% of wages, up to the statewide average weekly wage
- Children, but no spouse:
- 1 child – 32%
- 2 children – 42%
- 3 children – 52%
- 4 children – 62%
- 5 children – 64%
- 6 children – 66.67%
- Spouse, who is the parent/guardian of the victim’s children:
- 1 child – 60%
- 2+ children – 66.7%
- Spouse and children, when the spouse is not the parent/guardian of the children:
- 1 child – 30% to spouse, 30% to child
- 2+ children – 1/3 to spouse, children share 1/3
- Dependent parents, but no children:
- 32% if partially dependent, 52% if completely financially dependent
- Dependent siblings:
- 22%, with additional amounts for additional siblings up to 32%
If there are minor children with different guardians, the amount is divided equally among the qualifying children. For parents or a sibling to receive benefits, they must be financially dependent on the victim.
How can surviving family members receive workers compensation death benefits?
Workers compensation death benefits begin with making a report of the injury. The employer should be notified as soon as possible. Employers must file a report with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within 48 hours when an injury results in death. Parties requesting benefits must complete the necessary paperwork.
When an illness or injury does not cause immediate death, it is still possible to receive benefits. Occupational exposure or disease may be the basis of a claim. It can be complex to determine the cause of death when the worker is exposed to harmful chemicals. There is a time frame of when the death occurs compared to the injury to qualify for benefits.
Workers Compensation Death Benefits FAQs
What is the Pennsylvania workers compensation death benefits law?
Much of the Pennsylvania workers compensation death benefits law can be found in Section 307 of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
Is a widow disqualified from Pennsylvania workers compensation benefits if they are not living with the victim at the time of death?
If a widow is not living with the deceased spouse at the time of death and is not receiving financial support from them, they may not receive death benefits compensation. (See Section 307(7).)
Can stepchildren receive workers compensation death benefits in Pennsylvania?
Stepchildren fall under the definition of children for workers compensation death benefits if they were members of the household at the time of death.
Are children born after the victim’s death entitled to workers compensation death benefits in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania workers compensation provides death benefits to children born posthumously. A child born after the victim’s death may receive workers compensation death benefits.
Do Pennsylvania workers compensation death benefits change if a widow remarries?
If a widow remarries, they receive a lump-sum payment of 104 weeks of benefits. Then workers compensation ends.
Does a workers compensation death benefit increase for one family member if someone else becomes ineligible for benefits?
If benefits cease for any reason to one recipient, compensation changes for the other recipients. Compensation changes to what they would have received if they had been the only one entitled to compensation at the time of the death.
How much is the funeral benefit under Pennsylvania workers compensation law?
Pennsylvania workers compensation provides up to a $3,000 funeral benefit. The death benefit is payable whether or not the victim leaves behind a spouse and minor children.
Are workers compensation death benefits affected if the workers was under alcohol or drugs?
If the death occurs while a worker is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, surviving family members are not entitled to death benefits. However, you may be able to contest the issue of whether the worker was under the influence of at the time of death.
Are workers compensation death benefits available if a worker commits suicide?
In general, if a person dies because of intentional harm at work, surviving family members are ineligible for death benefits. However, if the death occurs because of a mental illness that can be traced to work or the work environment, there is a chance that the family may receive death benefits.
Can a Workers Compensation Lawyer Help Me With a Death Benefit Claim?
Receiving the compensation that you deserve when a work accident results in death can be complex. There may be questions of whether the death is work related, disputes about the amount of the average weekly wage and the entitlement of each qualifying person to benefits. There may also be questions of how to go about filing the claim to request benefits.
Workers Compensation Lawyers for Death Benefits
Our lawyers are experienced professionals who help families when they need us the most. We can gather the evidence and take care of the procedural steps involved in bringing your claim. Our law firm gives you peace of mind, clarity, and resolution. Contact our workers compensation lawyers today to talk about your case.