New York Family Seeks Posthumous Workers’ Compensation Settlement
A New York family is fighting a legal battle over workers’ compensation benefit payments after the death of a worker. Nearly $19,000 is owed to a husband/father who died in 2018, but worked multiple jobs to provide for his family. The man was given 350 weeks of disability payment and had 38.8 weeks left over at the time of his death. His 15-year-old son and his mother are trying to receive compensation they deserve, but are facing opposition from not only the state’s workers’ compensation board, but also Dutchess BOCES and Wright Risk Management.
However, the family is fighting an uphill battle. The New York State Attorney General’s Office says there is no precedent for a family to receive workers’ compensation payments for an employee’s permanent injury after they have died. Dependents typically are not allowed to receive payments posthumously. However, the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled in early 2020 that the family should receive the payments. The state disagrees and is filing an appeal. The outcome will determine how a 13-year-old amendment will be applied in the future when someone experiences a loss of earning capacity due to a disability. Instead of receiving benefit based on earnings, injured workers are given benefits based on a certain number of weeks.
The incident occurred in 2007, when Eric Watson was working full-time as a crisis intervention worker at Dutchess BOCES. He was called to intervene in a student altercation. He went to the classroom to remove the student and slipped on a jacket on the floor. He injured his knee and underwent two surgeries. When he went back to work in 2008 as a residential care worker, he was still entitled to his disability compensation, in which he received a total of 350 weeks.
His payments stopped in 2018, when he died of cardiac arrhythmia. At the time of his death, he had 38.8 weeks of payments remaining. It was assumed that his son, now 15, would be able to receive the money for his college education. In June 2018, a judge ruled that the boy was not entitled to the money. In March 2020, though, the state appellate court ruled disagreed with the decisions, claiming that scheduled and non-scheduled payments are treated differently after death. A scheduled loss is when a worker experiences permanent loss of eyesight, hearing or an extremity. In Eric’s case, he had a non-scheduled permanent partial disability with a 51% loss of wage-earning capacity. This entitled him to 350 weeks of benefits
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Each state has its own laws when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits. Obtaining these benefits can be difficult, especially if they are a relative’s benefits and that family member is no longer alive.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or illness in the workplace, White Plains workers’ compensation lawyer Michael Lawrence Varon can guide you through the process. He can maximize your settlement. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (914) 228-1770 or filling out the online form.