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What do I need to know about a death claim with California workers' compensation laws?

A consultation is free, and we are only paid if we win or settle your claim.

Is an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance responsible for the death of a worker on the job? Workers are often trained to report their injuries to their employer when they are injured or get sick on the job. But a subject that often goes unaddressed is what happens when the worker dies. If the death of a loved one happened at work, it is important to consult with an attorney for specific advice tailored to your situation. But these are the key points to know about a death claim with California workers’ compensation laws:


To be eligible for death benefits in California, the deceased worker must have been employed in a job covered by workers' compensation laws.

Who Can File a Claim?

The dependents or family members of a deceased worker, including a spouse, should typically file a workers' compensation death claim with the California Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC).

Time Limit

There are time limits for filing a death claim. In California, the claim should be filed within one year of the date of death or within one year of the date you knew or should have known that the death was connected to work-related factors.

Death Benefits

The death benefits provided under California workers' compensation laws typically include compensation for funeral expenses and financial support for the dependents of the deceased worker. The specific amount and duration of benefits can vary based on factors such as the number of dependents and their relationship to the deceased.


Dependents who may be eligible for death benefits can include spouses, children, and other dependents who were financially reliant on the deceased worker. The level of dependency can impact the amount of benefits received.

Burden of Proof

In California, the burden of proof lies with the claimant (the person seeking death benefits)to establish that the death was work-related. This may require providing medical and other evidence to support the claim.

Legal Assistance

It is advisable to seek legal counsel when dealing with a death claim under workers' compensation laws. An attorney can help ensure that you follow the correct procedures, provide evidence to support your claim, and protect your rights.

Potential Disputes

In some cases, the workers' compensation insurance company may dispute the claim. In such situations, legal representation can be crucial to navigate the dispute and ensure that the dependents receive the benefits they are entitled to. It is important to get an attorney early in the case.

Lump-Sum Settlements

In some cases, dependents may be offered a lump-sum settlement instead of ongoing death benefits. It's important to consider the implications of such a settlement and consult with legal counsel to make an informed decision.

In other cases, dependents may receive ongoing death benefits through an annuity structured settlement. An attorney can explain if an structed settlement works best for the dependents.

Talk with a Death Claim Attorney at SoCal Workers Comp

Please note that workers' compensation laws can be complex and subject to change, so it's essential to consult with an attorney who specializes in workers' compensation cases to ensure you understand your rights and options in your specific situation. This information is provided for general guidance and should not be considered legal advice.

The attorneys at SoCal Workers Comp have pursued complex workers’ compensation death claims for maximum policy limits. After the death of a loved one at work, an attorney at SoCal Workers Comp can help provide you with support. A consultation is free, and we are only paid if we win or settle your claim. Call or schedule a free consultation with us today.

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