Survivor benefits are available after a fatal work accident.Losing a loved one is extremely difficult. In addition to the emotional impact, it can have devastating financial ramifications—especially for those who were dependent on the deceased worker's economic contributions. In New York State, when an employee dies in a workplace accident or succumbs to a terminal occupational illness, their eligible surviving family members may be entitled to special workers' compensation benefits.

If someone you love died due to an on-the-job injury or work-related illness, you need a knowledgeable and experienced workers' comp attorney to help you understand your rights and explore your eligibility for death benefits, also known as survivor's benefits. Here's what you need to know about seeking workers' compensation death benefits in New York and how the highly-skilled attorneys with O'Connor Law PLLC can assist you.

New York Workers' Compensation Survivor Benefits 

Death benefits available to a deceased worker's eligible family members include compensation for funeral expenses (up to a specified maximum), as well as weekly income replacement payments. The total death benefits paid to survivors is usually two-thirds of the worker's average weekly wage for the previous year,  subject to a maximum set by the Workers' Compensation Board. 

Workers' Compensation Death Benefits Eligibility

Not everyone who loses a loved one to a workplace accident or occupational disease is eligible to collect survivor’s benefits. The relevant legal statutes limit death benefits eligibility to the deceased worker's surviving:

  • Spouse
  • Children 
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings

In the event that there is no surviving spouse, child, or grandchild, the parents of the deceased worker—or the worker's estate—may be eligible to receive the payment.

When a Surviving Spouse Isn't Eligible for Benefits

Though surviving spouses are first on the list of potentially eligible family members, there are instances where they may not be entitled to payments. For example, if the deceased worker's spouse had abandoned or divorced them prior to their death, the spouse would not be able to collect benefits.

How Death Benefit Payments Are Divided 

These payments are divided among the worker's closest surviving relatives according to the order specified in the state statute. It's important to note that a family member's eligibility for survivor benefits may change over time, resulting in a redistribution of the payments among the remaining eligible parties. A well-versed workers' compensation attorney can serve as your advocate, ensuring that you receive the proper benefits.

How Long Survivor Benefits Continue 

When a worker dies on—or because of—the job, their surviving spouse is often eligible to collect death weekly death benefit payments for the rest of their life. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if the surviving spouse remarries, the weekly payments stop and are replaced by a lump-sum payment of two years worth of benefits.

Why You Need an Adept Workers' Compensation Attorney 

Workers' compensation insurers are businesses dedicated to protecting their bottom line. As a result, they may not be exactly eager to ensure that a deceased workers' surviving family members are receiving the benefits to which they're entitled. You may have to fight to ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve. Fortunately, at O'Connor Law PLLC, our accomplished legal team can protect your rights and interests.

Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Case With Us

If your loved one died as a result of a workplace injury or occupational disease, you may find yourself wondering if life will ever be the same. While we know that survivor benefit payments can never may up for the untimely loss of your family member, it may be able to mitigate the financial hardships that can come with an unexpected death. Talk to one of our New York workers’ compensation attorneys about your case to find out how we can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary initial consultation.