If you lost a loved one in a construction accident, the pain and grief you’re forced to endure is hard enough. However, you and your family may also have suffered an economic impact as a result of your loss. While no amount of compensation can relieve your emotional anguish, you may be able to help ease the financial burden on your family and recover your economic damages by filing a claim for Workers’ Compensation death benefits. You may also be entitled to commence a wrongful death action against a third-party responsible for the accident to hold them accountable for their negligence.
Workers Compensation Death Benefits
New York Workers’ Compensation isn’t only limited to providing injured construction workers with medical care and lost wages — it can also provide death benefits to the spouse and dependents of a construction worker who died in a work-related accident.
Under the Workers’ Compensation system, the surviving spouse and minor children of a construction accident victim can receive cash benefits amounting to two-thirds of the weekly wage the victim earned each week. The amount may not exceed the weekly maximum allowable by the Workers’ Compensation schedule of benefits, regardless of how many dependents there are. If there are no dependents eligible for the weekly cash benefits, the estate of the accident victim may be entitled to $50,000.
Funeral costs up to $12,500 are covered by Workers’ Compensation for workplace accident victims in New York City, and up to $10,500 in other New York counties.
Workers’ Compensation may provide some financial recovery to families for the lost wages that their loved one brought home and assist with funeral costs. However, it’s rarely enough to compensate you for the full extent of your economic damages. In these cases, you may also consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Although the Workers’ Compensation system bars you from suing the accident victim’s employer for negligence, there are many instances in which a third-party involved in the construction project is the responsible party. The spouse and dependents may be able to bring a wrongful death suit against a contractor, subcontractor, engineer, architect, or another third-party whose negligence or labor law violations caused the fatal construction accident.
Economic damages in connection with the construction accident victim’s death may be recovered for:
- Unreimbursed medical expenses related to treatment for the accident
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages that were not reimbursed through Workers’ Compensation
- Loss of the value of services provided by the victim
Children of the accident victim may also be entitled to recover for loss of parental guidance and any reduction to their inheritance.
It’s critical to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit must be commenced by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate within two years of the victim’s death — and there are shorter statutes of limitation if a municipality is involved. Importantly, even if you are the victim’s spouse, you will still need to go through Surrogate’s Court to obtain the necessary documents that provide you with the authority to file suit.
Filing a Survivorship Cause of Action
New York State law does not allow family members to recover compensation for the emotional pain, anguish, and sorrow they may be feeling as a result of losing their loved one. However, you may be able to recover compensation for the conscious pain and suffering the accident victim endured prior to their death by filing a survivorship action. This is a separate cause of action that may be brought with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact a New York City Construction Accident Attorney
If you lost a loved one in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your economic damages and the victim’s pain and suffering they experienced before they died. Proving liability for wrongful death in construction accident cases can be extremely complex. An experienced construction accident attorney can ensure your case is properly investigated to help you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, and on Long Island in Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us at 1-800-2-DEARIE for a consultation.