Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation death benefits are available to the surviving spouse, child, or other dependent family member of a worker that is fatally injured in a work–related accident or illness. It is always advisable to consult with an experienced lawyer if you believe you are entitled to your loved one’s death benefits. The laws vary from state to state, and an experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected so you receive the maximum benefit available.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation pays the family of an eligible worker a $3,000 funeral expense benefit. It also provides the surviving spouse, and children under the age of 18 with a percentage of the deceased worker’s salary. The surviving spouse can continue to receive death benefits until he or she remarries. Even when a remarriage occurs, the spouse is still entitled to two additional years of benefits. This final settlement is usually paid in one lump sum that totals 104 weeks of compensation.
Death benefits to a deceased worker’s spouse are calculated using the worker’s pre-death weekly wage. Spouses receive 51 percent of the worker’s weekly salary. This benefit percentage increases when there are dependent children still living with the spouse. A widow or widower with one dependent child receives a 60 percent benefit while a spouse with two or more dependent children would receive a benefit close to 67 percent of the worker’s average salary.
Children are eligible for Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits until they reach the age of 18 years. If the child is dependent upon the deceased worker because of a disability, then that child can continue to receive benefits until the disability ends. Children who are enrolled full time in an accredited college, university, or trade school may also continue benefits until 23 years of age.
If the deceased worker had no children or spouse, family members who were dependent upon the deceased may also be eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation death benefits. Partially dependent parents are eligible to receive 32 percent of the worker’s wages at the time of death, while two totally dependent parents can receive a 52 percent benefit. Dependent brothers or sisters of the deceased that were partially or totally dependent on the worker can receive a benefit of 22-32 percent.
In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation death benefits can be invalidated or denied under certain circumstances. For the worker to be eligible for death benefits, the injury or illness has to be work-related. Even if the injury or illness did not cause an immediate death, the worker is required to have passed away within 300 weeks of sustaining the workplace injury.
The spouse or family of an employee who passes away on the job because they were involved in an accident that occurred while they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be eligible for death benefits. If the employee passed away after they intentionally harmed themselves, benefits will be invalidated. In the event the worker committed suicide due to a work-related mental illness, the case has a chance to be approved for benefits barring the family can prove this fact.
If you or a loved one believes you are entitled to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation death benefits, you need to first file a fatal claim petition. There are very strict filing requirements and deadlines to be met when petitioning for death benefits.
If you are the surviving spouse or family member of a worker that has been fatally injured due to a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation death benefits. Call the experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Philadelphia office of Gross & Kenny, LLP, at 215-512-1500, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.