In our last post, we began looking at the types of benefits available through the New Jersey workers' compensation system. As we have noted, injured workers are able to receive compensation not only for medical bills and temporary disability, but also ongoing compensation for permanent disability, whether partial or total.
Also available through the workers' compensation system are death benefits, which are available to dependants of a worker who dies from a work-related injury or illness. Exactly what dependants are eligible for workers' compensation death benefits, though?
The surviving spouse and the natural children of a deceased worker are automatically deemed to be dependants of the worker, provided they were part of the worker's household at the time of death. A surviving spouse, natural children and other dependants who were not part of the worker's household at the time of death are still able to receive workers' compensation death benefits, but they are required to prove actual dependency. Children with disabilities may be able to receive benefits beyond what ordinary dependants may receive.
In terms of payments, an employer or its insurance carrier is responsible for up to $3,500 in funeral expenses, and must pay 70 percent of the deceased workers' weekly wage. These payments may not exceed the maximum annual benefit amount. Benefits are divided up by a judge according to the number of surviving dependants.
For the survivors of a deceased worker, there can be major financial disruption. Unfortunately, employers and their insurance carriers are not always sympathetic in these situations and it can be critical to be with an experienced attorney who is able to advocate for the interests of dependants to ensure they receive the compensation to which they are entitled.