There are two common situations where additional benefits may be payable following the death of someone receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits. The laws which dictate who, if anyone, is eligible for death benefits are complicated and should be reviewed with an experienced attorney.
The first scenario involves what is known as a posthumous schedule loss of use award. In order to make this claim, it must be demonstrated, by way of medical evidence, that the deceased party had suffered a permanent loss of function of a qualifying body part. If that can be demonstrated, then even though the claimant is now deceased an award to the estate may be pursued. In these instances, the requisite medical evidence can sometime be secured by asking a physician to perform a chart review. In reviewing the prior medicals, a doctor may provide an opinion regarding percentage loss of function of the injured body part.
A death benefit may be awarded to a spouse and/or dependant if it can be proven that the claimant’s death was caused by the underlying work related injury or condition. In certain cases, a work related heart attack may result in death at a later date. If a connection can be made, death benefits will be payable.
In other circumstances, complications resulting from a work related injury may significantly contribute to or cause a claimant’s death. In that circumstance, death benefits may also be payable.
If you have questions regarding any aspect of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.