The simple definition of “death benefits” is monies allocated to help the “dependents” of the deceased worker as compensation. The law which governing “death benefits” can be found in the California Labor Code at Sec. 4700 et. seq.
Rationale: The rationale for having “death benefits” is to compensate the dependents who usually are family members of the worker so that they do not become financial burdens on the state.
In order to qualify for “death benefits” the person(s) applying (i.e., you the “applicant”) must prove two elements:
Causation: The job contributed to the death of the worker to some extent. The “applicant” need not show that the job was the main cause, predominate cause or the sole cause of death, but that the job was a factor in causing the death. That is, if the job somehow was 1% the cause of death while the 99% were caused by non-job related reasons, you (the applicant) will have proven this first element; and
Be a “dependent” of the deceased worker: You (the “applicant”) must demonstrate to the court that you are a whole or partial dependent of the deceased worker. A “dependent” can come in three forms:
#1) “child” : A person under 18 of the deceased worker at the time of death;
#2) “spouse” : A person married to the deceased worker at the time of death; or
#3) “good faith member of the household” : A person who was relying on the support of the deceased worker in good faith acting just like a member of the family (e.g. common law wife).
Mr. Danny Dong, an oil refinery worker, was never married but he lived with a woman (Darlene Darling) for many years and supported her. The woman had a son named Manny Darling with another man but Danny Dong also took care of the woman’s son as well. The three of them lived together under one roof. One day while at work the refinery caught fire and he burned to death. Darlene Darling and Manny Darling can both be “dependents” because they are likely to be “good faith members of the household” and they can claim death benefits.
Please note: If you think that you may be a “dependent” whether you are a total or partial dependent such as a “good faith member of the household” of the deceased worker but you are uncertain, feel free to give us a call and we will answer your question(s) at no cost because consultation is FREE!!!!!! Don’t wait because there is something called the “statute of limitations” which means that if a certain amount of time passes, you may lose important rights!!!! So, don’t wait!!!!!
Mr. Godsend Goodman was a chain smoker and worked as a demolition man. As part of his job duties he had to tear walls out from old building which at times had asbestos. One day he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and later died. The “panel qualified medical examiner” found that the chain smoking was the predominant cause (95%) of his cancer while the asbestos was a very minimal cause (5%). The end result is that the “dependents” of Mr. Goodman are entitled to death benefits because the job was a factor leading to death and so they may recover compensation even though the asbestos were a minimal contributing factor.
Please note: If you believe that a loved one died from the job or that the job in the slightest way contributed to the worker’s death, give us a call and we will answer your questions for FREE!!!!!! Don’t wait because there is something called the “statute of limitations” which means that if a certain amount of time passes, you may lose important rights!!!! So, don’t wait!!!!!
A “partial” dependent is a person who is not solely and exclusively relying on the support from the deceased worker, whereas a “total” dependent is a person who relies exclusively on the said deceased worker. The difference is that a “total” dependent is entitled to more compensation than a “partial” dependent. See the chart below. A typical example is that the spouse and minor children (i.e., under 18 years of age) are likely be “total” dependents. A “partial” dependent is usually an adult family member who was relying on the worker for some support. For example, an adult child who is a university student with a part time job and was receiving some help from his/her parent (deceased worker) and the elderly parent(s) of the deceased worker usually constitute “partial” dependents.
Burial expenses: up to $10,000.00 for the injuries on or after January 1, 2013 which led to death; and
Dependents’ benefits: for injuries on or after January 1, 2013 which led to death, the following schedule is applicable:
If the deceased worker has no dependents, then SIMPLY PUT the State of California will take all the benefits!!!!!!
Death without Dependents Unit (DWD Unit): It means that a specialized unit called the DWD Unit will take it all for the government of California!!!!!!
Please note: It would be a shame to let the government claim all of the death benefits. So, it is still better to be a “partial” dependent and claim something than to allow the government to take it all. So, give us a call and find out if you qualify. Remember, the call and the consultation are both FREE!!!!!!
As with all other claims, there is a time limit on when such claims may be filed. This concept is called the “statute of limitations.” For death claims, you (the dependent or dependents) must file the “death claim” within the following time deadline:
The death of the injured worker must occur within 240 weeks after the initial injury; and
The claim must be filed within one year from the date of death.
Robbin Masters worked as a construction worker and fell off the roof on the job on January 2, 2016. Following the fall, he was admitted into the E.R. for a severe brain injury and was kept in the ICU for 2 years in an unconscious state. On January 2, 2018, he passed away. May his wife and 2 children file a death claim and will it be timely? The answer is “yes” because the death occurred within 240 weeks from the date of injury (i.e. Mr. Masters died on the 104th week from the work-injury fall well within the 240-week deadline) and the family had one year from January 2, 2018 to file the claim. That is, the deadline for filing will land on January 2, 2019.
Many times a worker does not die immediately following the injury. The worker is injured first, some amount of time passes, and then later he or she dies from the injury. Between the time of the injury and the time of death, a certain amount of benefits are accumulated and sometimes they are not paid by the insurance company. This accumulated amount of benefits between injury and death is dubbed “accrued benefits” usually comprised of unpaid “total and temporary disability” benefits and/or “permanent disability” benefits. These “accrued benefits” may be collectible in addition to “death benefits.”
Eddy Sharp was a construction worker and fell from the roof to the ground. After his fall, he was hospitalized in the ICU for 2 months at the end of which he died. He left a wife and 2 minor children all of whom were totally dependent on Eddy for support. The insurance carrier did not pay him for the 2 months while he was in the ICU. His dependents (wife and 2 children) may now claim “total and temporary disability” benefits for 2 months, plus “death benefits” of $320,000.00 and burial expenses up to $10,000.00.
Please note: At the Law Offices of Fred L. Fong, APC we have handled death cases before. We are both Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation laws and we understand the difficulties of such cases. So, don’t hesitate to call us for help. Help is only a phone call away!!!! So, don’t wait!!!!