Workers’ compensation rules are governed largely by state laws and can vary from state to state. However, when a worker is injured, do the workers’ compensation rules apply to family members at all?
There are a variety of events that can occur while a worker is receiving workers’ compensation benefits from negotiating a settlement to having those benefits challenged by the insurance company. Unfortunately, people rarely talk about what happens to family members when a worker’s pay is affected by an injury.
The Basics Of Workers’ Compensation
BullDogLawyers.com defines workers’ compensation as type of insurance that’s designed in a way that protects employees in almost every industry in case of an accident or illness. Each state has its own rules about when workers’ compensation applies, and some states are a little stricter than others when it comes to awarding workers’ compensation. There are states that will deny workers’ compensation benefits if it is found that a worker was negligent in causing their own injuries in any way.
Each state also has a network of insurance carriers that offer workers’ compensation insurance and handle all of the claims. In most states, workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for employers to have. Each state has its own rules on how much workers’ compensation pays, and how long the insurance remains in effect. There are also different rules about how medical expenses are to be handled when a worker is injured.
Covering Injured Employees
In the state of Pennsylvania, a company that is based in the state would have to cover an employee injured out of state if that employee’s employment originated in Pennsylvania. Most states require companies to carry workers’ compensation insurance if that company has just one employee, while other states have minimum employee numbers.
If an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance and an employee is injured, many states have provisions to seek financial restitution from the company for the cost of the employee’s care. In Pennsylvania, there is a state fund that is used to help pay for injured workers not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. State laws say that the company that did not carry insurance will be required to pay the state back for any costs incurred.
Helping Family Members
When it comes to helping family members, the workers’ compensation rules vary depending on the state. In the state of New York, workers’ compensation benefits do not automatically transfer to surviving spouses or family members if a worker who was being covered passes away while collecting benefits. The surviving family members can petition the state to continue benefits, which may or may not be approved.
Family members of a worker collecting benefits are urged to help their own cause by alerting the workers’ compensation board in their state when the worker passes away. The workers’ compensation board will need an official death certificate to consider continuing any benefits to surviving family members.
If a worker passes away without dependents, then the parents of that worker could be entitled to what is referred to as a no-dependents award. This would be a one-time payment that would also include money for funeral expenses. If the parents of a worker relied on that worker’s income while the worker was alive, then the parents can petition their state for a continuation of benefits.
In some special cases, the worker’s death may have been because of their work activities. If this is the case, then many states allow family members to file a death benefit petition to the state for whatever workers’ compensation benefits may be available.
Workers’ compensation is a system put into place to make sure that workers get the kind of treatment they deserve when injured on the job, and to make sure that workers still have some sort of income coming in. If a worker passes away while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, then the worker’s family may be entitled to a continuation of benefits, depending on the laws of their particular state.
Jay Shor is the managing partner at Shor & Levin, P.C., also known as The Bulldog Lawyers. He has decades of experience working in personal injury and workers’ compensation law. He is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association’s Workers’ Compensation Section, Montgomery County Bar Workers’ Compensation Section, and Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section. He also served multiple terms on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Judiciary Committee, which works to review, interview, and recommend potential candidates for judgeships in Montgomery County, PA.