Fatal Work Accidents: Compensation for Surviving Family Members

The family of an 18-year-old worker was left grieving last month after the man was struck and killed by the compactor blade of a recycling truck. The accident occurred inside a recycling plant near the East River, in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood. According to witnesses, the man was loading paper into the rear of the truck when the compactor came down on his chest, killing him.

In the wake of such tragedies, it is comforting to know our legal system in New York is designed to provide compensation to the families of employees killed in work-related accidents. If you are a family member in this situation, you will generally have two legal remedies available. First, you can file a claim for workers' compensation death benefits. Second, if the accident resulted from the negligence of a third party, you may be able to sue the responsible party for wrongful death.

To qualify for worker's compensation death benefits, your loved one must have died from an injury sustained in the course of employment. The worker's surviving spouse and minor children are entitled to benefits in an amount equal to 2/3 of the worker's average weekly wage for the 12-month period leading up to the accident. The benefits are paid as weekly cash payments, up to the statutory weekly maximum. You may also be able to negotiate the benefit award as a lump sum payment.

If the worker does not have a surviving spouse or minor children, then the worker's other dependents, relatives, or estate may still be eligible for benefits. These include funeral expenses of up to $6,000 in Metropolitan New York counties. Regardless of who qualifies to receive the benefits, the application must be submitted with the supporting documentation required by law. We work with competent attorneys who specialize in workers' compensation law who will help you with this process.

A wrongful death lawsuit is separate from worker's compensation, and presents a different means of obtaining financial relief. If a third party (someone other than the employer) is responsible for the accident, as a surviving family member you may bring a personal injury lawsuit. Recovery can include compensation for medical bills, loss of support, the worker's pain and suffering, and other damages. If you believe you may have a claim for wrongful death, it is critical that you contact an experienced attorney in these matters without delay.

When pursuing both workers' compensation death benefits and a wrongful death lawsuit, legal representation is critical. At the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel, we can assist you with both cases, and make sure your cases are coordinated properly. Protect your right to full compensation for the loss of your loved one. Call (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn how we can help.

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