Losing a loved one as a result of a job-related injury or illness is a tragedy that no family should be forced to endure. Yet, sadly, work-related deaths in New Jersey are all-too-common, and many spouses, children, and other family members are forced to seek financial compensation for their loved ones’ untimely deaths. If you have lost a loved one to a job-related injury or illness in New Jersey, you may be entitled to benefits through workers’ compensation, and you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights promptly.
What Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Are Available in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, eligible family members are entitled to a weekly death benefit payment of up to 70% of the deceased’s weekly wage immediately prior to death. If more than one family member is eligible, this benefit will be distributed among the eligible family members as provided by statute. Workers’ compensation death benefits are subject to a cap that changes on an annual basis; and, if this cap is less than 70% of your loved one’s weekly wage, you will only be entitled to receive the statutory maximum. The caps for 2020 and 2021 are:
- 2020 Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Cap: $945/week
- 2021 Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Cap: $969/week
In addition to these weekly death benefits, eligible family members can receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover their funeral expenses as well. Eligible family members can receive either (i) the actual costs they incur for funeral costs, or (ii) $3,500, whichever is lower. Workers’ compensation also pays eligible medical expenses for treatment of the deceased’s illness or injury prior to death.
Which Family Members Are Eligible to Receive Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?
Family members who qualify as the deceased’s “dependents” are eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits in New Jersey. This always includes the deceased’s spouse (unless and until he or she remarries – more on this below). The deceased’s natural children are presumed to be dependents as well, as long as they “were a part of the [deceased’s] household at the time of death.” Depending on the family circumstances, others who may qualify as dependents include (but are not limited to):
- Adopted children
As the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJ DLWD) explains, when there are multiple eligible dependents, “[t]he benefit amount is divided by the surviving dependents as determined by a judge after a hearing on extent of dependency.” Any disputes regarding who qualifies as a dependent for purposes of workers’ compensation eligibility will need to be resolved by a judge as well.
How Long Do New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Last?
The length of time for which eligible dependents can receive workers’ compensation death benefits depends on their personal relationship to the deceased. As a general rule, surviving spouses are entitled to receive death benefits “during the entire period of survivorship.” However, if a surviving spouse remarries, then at the time of remarriage, his or her benefits will be limited to, “the remainder of the compensation which would have been due the spouse had the spouse not remarried, or 100 times the amount of weekly compensation paid immediately preceding the remarriage, whichever is [less].”
Dependent children are eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits until they reach age 18, or age 23 if they are full-time students. However, as noted by the NJ DLWD, “[i]f a child is physically or mentally disabled, he/she may be eligible for further benefits.”
For most other eligible dependents, workers’ compensation death benefits will be paid for up to 450 weeks while each eligible dependent is between the ages of 18 and 40 (parents and certain others are excluded from this limitation). However, similar to children, benefits can extend beyond the age of 40 (for up to 450 weeks of total benefits) for dependents with disabilities.
What Are Your Legal Rights after a Loved One’s Work-Related Death in New Jersey?
As you can see, all of this is quite complicated; and, as you might expect, collecting the benefits to which you are legally entitled can be challenging. At Petro Cohen, we understand. If you would like help in making sure you receive the full benefits you deserve, schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyers.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Petro Cohen
Have you lost a loved one due to a job-related injury or illness? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our injury lawyers about your legal rights.
The reality is that the outcome of your case will largely depend on the skill of your New Jersey work injury attorney and the quality of your legal representation. Your attorney’s level of education, experience, track record, legal abilities, and reputation matter – big time.
The New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Petro Cohen have the knowledge, skills, and proven ability to make workers’ compensation work for you. We solve problems. We get results.
As a valued client of our firm, you can expect legal excellence when our proven New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers handle your matter. We have worked hard in helping our clients overcome a limitless number of challenges time and time again.
The law firm has a stellar reputation – in fact, Petro Cohen has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.
We have four offices in southern New Jersey, including Northfield (Atlantic City area), Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton (Trenton area). Your no obligation consultation is free, and our attorneys only get paid if you are compensated.
To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call Petro Cohen directly at 888-675-7607 or tell us how you would like to be contacted online today.