Obtaining Justice for Families Impacted by Fatal Work Accidents
Protecting Workers All Across Pennsylvania
Most Pennsylvania employers strive to maintain safe workplaces, as is required by law. Sadly, on-the-job accidents still happen every day and sometimes, those accidents prove fatal for workers. Families of those workers not only have to deal with the pain and grief of losing their loved one, but they also often face financial hardship due to the sudden loss of their loved one’s income. If you lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. can help you collect the workers’ compensation death benefits and any other forms of compensation to which you are entitled.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act
Most Pennsylvania workers are covered under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act”), which entitles them to workers’ compensation benefits in the event they are injured at work or contract an occupational illness. Full-time, part-time and seasonal workers are all eligible to receive benefits under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. Only certain types of workers such as longshoremen, railroad workers and other federal employees are exempt from state coverage and are instead covered under federal laws.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2016, there were 163 fatal occupational injuries in Pennsylvania. Transportation accidents, contact with objects and equipment, falls, slips and trips, exposure to harmful substances or environments, violence, fires and explosions were the causes of those deaths. Workers’ compensation benefits are available for not only occupational injuries and illnesses, but also for workplace deaths.
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
When a worker dies due to a workplace accident, his or her dependents may be able to collect workers’ compensation death benefits. In Pennsylvania, qualifying family members include:
- Children under the age of 18
- Children under the age of 23 if enrolled in school full-time
- Children who are physically or mentally incapacitated
- Parents who were financially dependent upon the worker
- Siblings under the age of 18 or under the age of 23 if enrolled in school full time who are unable to support themselves due to a disability and depended on the worker, at least partially, for financial support
The amount of death benefits family members will receive depends on several factors, including the deceased worker’s average weekly wages and how many beneficiaries there are. Death benefits are capped at a maximum weekly limit based on an annual assessment of the state’s average weekly wage. Family members are also entitled to the reasonable costs of burial and therefore may receive up to $3,000 for burial and funeral expenses.
The workers’ compensation system is no-fault, meaning that claimants do not need to prove anyone was at fault for their accident or illness in order to receive compensation. In return, claimants are generally barred from suing their employers directly. However, if another party other than the employer caused the accident, they may be sued in a third-party claim.
Third-party claims may be filed in conjunction with workers’ compensation claims. If a third party negligently caused the accident, they may be held liable for additional damages such as pain and suffering in a wrongful death suit. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. can help you determine your best legal options for recovering maximum financial compensation.
As with any workplace accident, it is imperative that employers are notified immediately so that workers’ compensation benefits can be distributed to eligible dependents of the deceased worker as soon as possible. Once notified of the worker’s death, the employer must then file a First Report of Injury with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within three days. An experienced attorney can help ensure your claim meets all statutes of limitations and other legal deadlines so you do not miss out on your opportunity to collect your benefits.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Those Who Have Lost a Family Member in a Fatal Work Accident
If you lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, contact a compassionate Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We have over 35 years of experience helping injured workers and their families throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. Call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form to arrange a free consultation.