Your Rights When a Loved One Dies after Contracting the Coronavirus at Work
In New York, when a worker dies from a work-related injury or illness, surviving family members have a right to benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation program. A surviving spouse will typically receive benefits for the rest of his or her life, unless the surviving spouse remarries. If that happens, the surviving spouse is entitled to two years of benefits in a lump sum payment.
The rate paid to the surviving spouse is equal to that which the worker would have received, had the injury or illness not resulted in death. If there’s no surviving spouse, benefits will paid to dependent children. If there are no dependents of the deceased, a death benefit of $50,000 will be paid to surviving parents. Absent living parents, the death benefits goes to the decedent’s estate.
The New York Workers’ Compensation laws also include payment of funeral expenses, up to a ceiling of $6,000.
Proving that the Death Was COVID-19-Related
Under the New York workers’ compensation laws, a person seeking benefits for an injury or illness must prove that the condition was “work-related.” For occupational diseases, the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) keeps a list of illnesses commonly associated with certain occupations. If a worker seeks benefits for one of those named conditions, there’s a presumption that the illness was work-related. That shifts the burden to the employer to demonstrate that the worker contracted the disease elsewhere.
To date, the WCB has not designated COVID-19 as an occupational illness, though the New York legislature is currently considering two bills that would include COVID-19 as one. Therefore, if your loved one died from the coronavirus and you want to pursue death benefits under the workers’ compensation laws, you’ll need to prove that the virus was contracted during the course of employment.
Experienced Queens, New York Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
At the law office of Pyrros & Serres, we offer more than five decades of combined experience to people throughout Queens and across the New York City metropolitan area who have suffered a workplace injury or illness. We emphasize personal service and attention, learning the details of your injury, as well as your goals, so that we can tailor our counsel to get the results you want. Many of our new cases come as referrals from doctors, lawyers and satisfied clients.
To learn more about the services we offer, see our practice area overview page or call our offices at 718-626-7730