When a worker dies on the job, the tragedy is overwhelming for the family. When the worker was covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance, the widow and family can receive benefits according to the schedule of benefits. But there is a maximum and that maximum can be limited in time depending on certain circumstances.
The maximum death benefit paid is $861 per week. This weekly benefit is paid until the spouse dies unless the spouse remarries. If the spouse remarries, then the benefit is limited to a total of 104 additional weeks during the subsequent marriage.
So the death benefits in workers’ compensation are measured by the amount of time the benefits pay out and whether or not the spouse remarries.
But some workplace injuries may be caused by some person or entity who is not the employer. These are called Third Party Claims. In a third party claim, the worker’s family can bring a lawsuit against another contractor or person and sue them for the wrongful death of the worker. The wrongful death claim is not affected or limited by workers’ compensation insurance so long as the worker was never employed by the party or defendant being sued.
The wrongful death claim will be based on negligence of the party being sued and while gross negligence may in fact be involved, the gross negligence is not the minimum standard like there is in the claims brought against a worker’s employer with workers’ compensation insurance. This means it is far easier to prove a case of liability to the jury and easier to obtain successful verdicts.