People choose to work in dangerous professions in part because they want to afford their families a higher standard of living. Blue-collar jobs that are traditionally associated with a significant degree of personal risk often command premium wages and provide excellent workplace benefits. Workers can also improve their income and position through loyalty, diligence and demonstrated skill.
Employees in very dangerous manufacturing environments and those who pursue construction careers are among those more likely than the average worker to end up hurt or possibly die because of their employment. The families of these workers may not fully understand how state rules protect them.
Most workers in New Jersey recognize that they are protected by workers’ compensation coverage if they get hurt on the job and that they can get help filing a claim. Surviving family members may have a harder time getting support and compensation. What protections exist for those who lose a loved one in a workplace incident?
Workers’ compensation provides death benefits
Just as injured workers can file claims for health coverage and wage replacement after an injury, there are similar protections for the surviving family members of people who die while working or as the result of a job-acquired medical condition.
Surviving immediate family members in New Jersey may qualify for multiple types of coverage. Workers’ compensation medical benefits can provide full payment or the treatment someone required between their injury or diagnosis with a work-acquired condition and their death. New Jersey workers’ compensation can repay families for funeral or burial expenses up to a maximum state benefit of $3,500.
Family members can also qualify for ongoing wage replacement benefits that can pay up to 70% of someone’s average weekly wage, although such benefits are subject to a maximum benefit amount adjusted by state lawmakers regularly.
Although benefits obviously cannot undo the loss that a family suffers when someone dies because of their employment, the workers’ compensation program can at least diminish the lasting financial hardship generated by someone’s untimely passing. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is often an important step for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one because of a workplace incident or job-related illness.