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Wrongful death claims versus workers' compensation: Your choices

When you get hurt on the job, you know that you have a right to workers' compensation. What happens if you die at work, though? Are your family members able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, or do they need to accept workers' compensation death benefits instead?

Workers' compensation does provide death benefits to the family members of those who are killed on the job. Any direct family member affected by the death -- this includes spouses, children and other defendants -- can seek compensation following the incident.

The amount that is paid to your beneficiaries is determined by the state. Usually, it is determined by looking at the total number of dependents you have and then pays out on a weekly basis. It's important for your family to be informed that they can seek out these benefits, because the statute of Limitations may kick in after a year. If this happens, anyone who has not filed a claim will no longer be able to do so.

Usually, employees can't sue their employers if they're hurt on the job. However, if you are a family member of someone who was killed on the job, you may be able to seek out a wrongful death claim against the company. You'll need to show that your loved one died as a result of negligence, misconduct or other wrongful actions.

When you talk to your attorney, he or she will make sure you can prove that your loved one died, that the death was caused by negligence and that you have suffered financially as a result of the death. If you can show those factors, then you have a chance to take your wrongful death claim to court.

Source: FindLaw, "Death at Work: Workers' Comp or Wrongful Death Claim?," accessed April 18, 2017

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