The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its preliminary data on workplace fatalities in 2014. In total, the BLS’s data show that 4,679 individuals died on the job last year – nearly 100 more than in 2013. Causes of death ranged from vehicle accidents to slips and falls, with homicides also accounting for a significant number of work-related deaths.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as is unfortunately to be expected, thousands of workers have lost their lives in 2015 as well.

When workers die on the job, their families suffer both financially and emotionally. Through workers’ compensation, families can seek benefits to cover the loss of their loved one’s income and the costs associated with their funeral. When someone else’s fault or negligence contributes to a fatal accident, family members can seek additional compensation for their loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and other losses through a claim for wrongful death.

Workplace Fatalities that May Entitle Families to Financial Compensation

Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law, surviving dependents are entitled to 70 percent of the deceased individual’s wages and up to $3,500 in funeral expenses from their loved one’s employer. For purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Law, surviving spouses and children living with the deceased worker are presumed to be dependents, while other family members may need to prove actual dependency.

While workers’ compensation typically protects employers from being sued for their employees’ injuries and deaths (though not always), families will often have claims against other parties that are not barred by the Workers’ Compensation Law. Some situations where family members may be entitled to claim workers’ compensation death benefits and/or file a wrongful death lawsuit include

  • Vehicle collisions occurring during work hours
  • Sea and air travel accidents during work or while traveling on business
  • Fires and explosions
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Exposure to harmful or toxic substances
  • Equipment and machinery accidents

According to the BLS, these are all among the top causes of fatal workplace accidents.

Seeking Compensation for Your Loved One’s Death

If you have lost a loved one, seeking death benefits through workers’ compensation can often be a challenge. Even though the law requires employers and their insurance companies to pay, rarely will they do so without a fight. From strict deadlines to technical issues with forms and applications, some employers and insurance companies will use every excuse in the book to avoid paying benefits to workers’ families. As a result, we generally recommend that families hire an attorney to assist with their workers’ compensation claims. The same goes for wrongful death claims as well.

Contact Petro Cohen, P.C. Today

At Petro Cohen, P.C., we provide experienced legal representation for workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death lawsuits in New Jersey. If you have questions about filing for death benefits, or if you want to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your loved one’s fatal work accident, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys today.