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What Are the Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits and Wrongful Death Damages?

Workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death claims both provide grieving families an opportunity to obtain financial compensation related to the loss of their loved ones. While these two types of cases arise under different circumstances, there are situations where a family can pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it is important to understand the differences between the benefits available under each of these claims, as they are very different.

Perhaps the most important difference between a wrongful death case and a workers’ compensation claim is that a family can only obtain economic damages through a workers’ compensation claim. Economic damages available through a workers’ compensation claim include payment for medical expenses and ongoing disability benefits. However, through a wrongful death lawsuit, a family can obtain all the benefits they would receive through a workers’ compensation claim as well as non-economic damages.

Non-economic damages compensate grieving families for the emotional and psychological impact that the accident had on their lives. For example, in a New Jersey wrongful death claim, families may recover amounts for the loss of companionship and guidance their loved one would have provided, had they not died.

Following a fatal workplace accident, both economic and non-economic damages are essential to a full recovery. Thus, it is imperative to assess the potential for bringing a wrongful death claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim.

Another important difference in how damages are awarded in wrongful death cases and workers’ comp claims is the period of time covered by the compensation award. For example, if workers dies in an on-the-job accident, their family may receive workers’ compensation death benefits for up to 500 weeks. These benefits would be equal to two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage (AWW). On top of that, the family could receive up to $12,000 in funeral and burial expenses. However, this would be the extent of their recovery.

Alternatively, if a family successfully brought a wrongful death claim, the jury would be able to base a damages award on an unlimited amount of time. In other words, the judge overseeing the wrongful death case will not limit a jury to any particular period of time when determining the appropriate amount of damages.

Contact a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

The law firm of Petrillo & Goldberg has assembled a compassionate team of advocates who have dedicated their careers to ensuring that New Jersey injury accident victims recover the compensation they need and deserve. The NJ workers’ compensation lawyers at Petrillo & Goldberg have extensive experience dealing with the insurance companies so accidents victims can focus on their recovery, spending time with their family, returning to work and moving on with their lives. To learn more, call 856-486-4343 to schedule a free consultation. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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