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Workers’ comp or wrongful death claim following New York death at work?

When a work-related death happens in New York, the decedent’s dependents are possibly eligible for benefits. However, it’s not always clear if the survivors should simply accept the workers’ compensation death benefit or go a step further and also file a wrongful death claim.

Workers’ compensation death benefits

Worker’s compensation provides a death benefit to the dependents of a worker who experiences a work-related death. Spouses, children, grandchildren and other qualified dependents can possibly receive this benefit.

The amount of the benefit depends on the number of dependents. However, most states put a cap on workers’ compensation death benefits. There’s also a 1-year statute of limitations. Failing to make the claim within the allotted time can result in a loss of benefits.

Wrongful death claim

When a worker dies in a New York work-related accident, the worker’s survivors might have the right to file a wrongful death claim. In addition to proof of the work-related death, proof that someone else’s negligence caused the death is also required. The survivors must also show that they’ve suffered financial hardship because of the death.

How to proceed

Survivors can choose to accept the death benefit provided by workers’ compensation. They can also choose to pursue a wrongful death claim. Filing the wrongful death claim can result in a larger benefit because of pain and suffering, and loss of wages. Workers’ compensation doesn’t include pay for pain and suffering in its settlement.

Survivors should understand that they can’t collect the same compensation reimbursement twice. If lost compensation is recovered from workers’ compensation and a wrongful death claim, then workers’ compensation will file a claim for the return of its settlement. Survivors have to decide which is the best option for their situation.


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