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A candle and the words "In memory" for a victim whose family now fights for workers' compensation death benefits

When a loved one dies from a work-related injury or illness, the bereaved can feel overwhelmed. Among the many issues to resolve is how to survive financially. While money can never compensate you for such a tragic loss, workers’ compensation death benefits can offset lost financial support and help those left behind move forward with their lives.

Who Receives Benefits if a Worker Dies?

The following family members may qualify for workers’ compensation death benefits in Pennsylvania if a worker dies within 300 weeks from the date of a work-related injury:

  • The surviving spouse can receive benefits for life if he or she was living with, or dependent upon, the deceased at the time of death. A surviving spouse who remarries receives a final lump sum payment of 104 weeks of compensation.
  • Benefits are paid to children up to the age of 18 or, if enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited educational institution, 23. Dependent disabled children receive compensation through the term of the disability. Qualifying children can be legitimate, illegitimate, adopted or born after the fatal injury. The deceased’s step children as well as children for whom the deceased had parental responsibility are also covered.
  • Dependent parents, brothers and sisters are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if the deceased had neither a spouse nor children.

How are Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Calculated?

Benefits are calculated according to a percentage of the deceased’s weekly wage and the number of beneficiaries, subject to a cap. For example:

  • A surviving spouse with no children receives 51 percent.
  • A surviving spouse with two children receives 66 2/3 percent.
  • The percentage decreases according to proximity to the deceased except in the case of dependent parents. Totally dependent parents may receive 52 percent whereas one dependent brother or sister receives only 22 percent.

Burial expenses up to $3,000 are covered.

How Can an Attorney Help?

While it is impossible to attach a dollar value to the loss of a loved one, a skilled attorney can help you recover the benefits you deserve, and answer questions you might have about wrongful death.



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