Understanding Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in California


At Hanning & Sacchetto, our workers’ compensation attorneys in Whittier know that when families lose a loved one during a tragic work accident in California, they lose more than the person. They lose the financial support and benefits they contributed to the home before their death, which can place many families in a compromising position.

We also know that California’s workers’ compensation system provides death benefits to eligible dependents, which could include spouses, domestic partners, or children when an employee loses their life at work.

These benefits are often an essential income lifeline for surviving family members, and our skilled workers’ compensation lawyers in Los Angeles County work tirelessly to help ensure our clients know what they are entitled to after the loss of a loved one at work.

How California Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Are Determined

In California, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means surviving family members do not have to prove the employer was negligent in causing their loved one’s death.

However, workers’ compensation benefits are provided in place of the family being able to sue the employer for their loss.

First, California’s workers’ compensation insurance must pay reasonable burial expenses, up to $10,000 for the deceased employee.

Next, the state’s workers’ compensation death benefits are calculated based on how much the deceased employee earned before his or her death, and equals two-thirds, or 66.7%, of the deceased person’s wages.

Death benefits are then paid to the eligible dependents weekly or may be offered in a lump sum. Before determining the right financial recovery option for your family, contact our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Whittier today to carefully weigh your options.

Who is Eligible to File for Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in California?

Surviving family members who were partially or totally dependent on the deceased employee for financial support at the time of the accident may be eligible to receive death benefits.

That may include:

  • Spouses
  • Domestic partners
  • Children or stepchildren
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • Aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews

In some cases, family members may be automatically considered total dependents, which may include:

  • Children under the age of 18
  • Children who are unable to earn a living due to mental or physical limitations
  • Spouses who earned less than $30,000 in the 12 months before the employee’s death

In these cases, there is a financial cap on basic death benefits for total dependents:

  • $250,000 for one total dependent
  • $290,000 for two total dependents, which will be split evenly between them
  • $320,00 for three or more total dependents, which will be split evenly between them

At Hanning & Sacchetto, our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys in Whittier will help you understand each aspect of your death benefits claim, including how partial dependents may seek financial recovery under California’s legal statutes. Contact us today to learn more.

Contact Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Whittier, California Today for a Free Consultation

If you have lost a loved one in a work accident in California, contact our dedicated Whittier personal injury attorneys at Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP today by calling (562) 698-6446 to learn how we can pursue the financial recovery you are entitled to for your loss.

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