When you got the call that your spouse was killed, you knew that workers' compensation would kick in. For you, that didn't seem like enough. You knew that the accident was a result of negligence, and you want to know if you can get more than what workers' compensation wants to provide to you.
Normally, workers or their families may not sue their employers if they are hurt or killed on the job. This is because the employer covers the workers with workers' compensation insurance, which compensates families and victims. If the individual dies as a direct result of misconduct or negligence, then a wrongful death claim might still be possible.
To win a wrongful death claim, you'll need to show that the individual died, that it was a result of negligence and that any surviving family member has suffered monetary injuries as a result of the person's death. For example, a child without a father or mother's income suffers a financial loss as a result.
If you have workers' compensation but don't have a wrongful death case, then you can still collect death benefits if a loved one is killed. Workers' compensation does provide death benefits that cover spouses, children and other dependents if a worker is killed on the job. The state Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) determines how much is fair as a benefit by looking at the individual's total number of total and partial dependents. Families have one year to begin collecting these benefits. Some states cap the total amount of death benefits, which can hurt families who were expecting years of income that would have exceeded that value.
Source: FindLaw, "Death at Work: Workers' Comp or Wrongful Death Claim?," Christopher Coble, Esq., accessed Sep. 01, 2017