Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in California
We are honored to help families who lost loved ones on the job
Losing a loved one is always difficult. You’re trying to grieve and looking at an uncertain future for your family. That’s why California law provides protection for families who lose loved ones in on-the-job accidents. The workers’ compensation system provides some degree of recourse to help you replace the financial support the injured worker provided, giving you space to heal and move forward.
However, the process around death benefits is complex, and the last thing you need when you’re grieving is to navigate this situation alone. The workers’ compensation attorneys at McLaughlin & Sanchez can help. We’ve walked with many families in this situation, and we can help you move forward. Contact us to schedule your free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.
Who can receive workers’ compensation death benefits in California?
In California, death benefits go to people who were totally or partially dependent on the deceased worker at the time of injury (not necessarily at the time of death). There are three types of people who can be considered total dependents:
- The deceased worker’s children under 18
- The deceased worker’s adult children who are unable to earn a living because of a physical or mental disability
- The deceased worker’s surviving spouse who earned $30,000 or less in the previous year
A partial dependent is someone who was partially financially dependent on the deceased worker but also has another means of support. Partial dependents may be close relatives, including the deceased worker’s children, spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and in-laws, or people who lived with the deceased worker. Whether someone is considered a partial dependent depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
How much do death benefits pay in California?
There are two parts to workers’ compensation death benefits in California. The first is up to $10,000 in funeral and burial expenses. The second is a sum of money for the deceased worker’s dependents, which varies depending on the number of dependents:
- If there is one total dependent, they will receive $250,000.
- If there is one total dependent and one or more partial dependents, then the total dependent will get $250,000 and the partial dependents will get up to $25,000.
- If there are two total dependents, they will split $290,000, with each receiving $145,000. Partial dependents cannot get benefits if there are two or more total dependents.
- If there are three or more total dependents, they will receive $320,000, evenly divided between the total dependents.
Death benefits are paid at the deceased employee’s temporary disability rate – that is, two-thirds of their pre-injury average weekly earnings – until the total benefit is exhausted. Note that death benefits are distinct from any temporary or permanent disability benefits the deceased worker received (that is, if they were hurt in an accident, died some time later, and received disability benefits in the intervening time).
A compassionate workers’ compensation attorney can help your family
Filing a claim for death benefits is a difficult and complex process. There are numerous aspects you have to prove: the work-related accident itself, the financial dependence on the deceased worker, and the resolution of any other benefits for medical expenses, temporary disability, or partial disability that may have been owed to the deceased worker. You don’t need to deal with the insurance company on your own. An experienced attorney can investigate the situation, advise you of the benefits you are entitled to receive under California law, and represent your interests in negotiations and if necessary, litigation while you focus on grieving and moving forward.
Talking to a lawyer isn’t an obligation to hire; it’s a chance to explain your situation and learn more about your legal rights and options. If you’ve lost a loved one in an on-the-job injury, schedule your free case review with an experienced, compassionate San Diego workers’ compensation lawyer.