Workers' Compensation Death Benefits

If a worker is killed on the job, or dies as a result of problems from a workplace accident, his or her surviving family members may be eligible for workers' compensation death benefits. Family members coping with the death of a loved one and the resulting financial difficulties need experienced legal advice to help them battle for the required compensation.

If you are the spouse or dependent of a worker who died as a result of a work-related accident, you might be entitled to financial compensation (death benefits) under workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is a type of coverage that all Massachusetts employers must give to their employees.

Death Benefits Eligibility

Dependents are those who are usually entitled to survivor death benefits. A surviving spouse is entitled to up to 250 weeks of workers' compensation benefits in addition to the additional cost of living increases. Such benefits can be extended if the surviving spouse has not married again, or is not self-sufficient when the 250 weeks end. In addition, the employer's workers' compensation insurer must contribute up to $4,000 in burial costs. These are the employee's family members or next of kin who were financially dependent on the employee at the time of the fatality. These people may include the following:

  • The deceased's spouse (husband or wife) who lived with the employee, or a wife who was not living with the deceased for a permissible reason or due to desertion.
  • Minor children (those under the age of eighteen (18) or kids over the age of eighteen (18) with a physical or mental disability who lived with the deceased.
  • Children of the deceased that were conceived, but were still unborn at the time of death.
  • Minor children who did not live with the deceased, but were entitled to court-ordered help.
  • The parent(s) of a deceased unmarried worker whether they stayed with the deceased.
What are the Death Benefits in a Workers' Compensation Claim in Massachusetts?

The surviving spouse of the deceased may receive two-thirds of the worker's average weekly income, up to a cap - dependent on state averages - determined by the unemployment office.

A surviving spouse is still entitled to at least $110 per week. In the first two years of earning benefits, regular changes to the payment sum for living expenses will begin. These benefits continue until a spouse remarries, at which point they are reduced to $60 per week for each dependent child - not to exceed the total amount received by the spouse before remarriage.

When there is no surviving spouse at the time of death, the payments are split evenly among all dependent children. Payments to children end when they reach the age of eighteen (18), except for children who are physically or mentally disabled. Funeral expenses are reimbursed up to a cap equal to eight times the deceased's average weekly wage.

Accidents Involving Third Parties

In general, workers' compensation law prohibits injured workers from suing their employers. This immunity is only available to the employer; it does not apply to third parties.

For example, assume the injured worker works for an electric subcontractor on project construction and is injured as a result of the woodworking subcontractor's negligence. In this case, the law allows a party to file a "third-party" complaint.

A further example would be if the worker was hit by a defective instrument, piece of machinery or piece of equipment. In this case, the worker can file a third-party claim for compensation based on defective product liability. Third-party liability cases are subject to court or Department of Industrial Accidents’ approval and workers are strongly encouraged to pursue those claims with the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Contact our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Attorney

If workers' compensation rejects your claim, you can contact a workers’ compensation lawyer right away. Please contact Bellotti Law Group, P.C. today to discuss your case.

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