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I recently received a call from a mother residing in Lancaster, California, whose son lost his life while performing construction work in Los Angeles, California. While my heart drops when I receive such calls, they also place me in a position to provide the legal support and advocacy to those deserving individuals, who, in large part, drove me to become a California workers' compensation attorney.

I strive to obtain the maximum death benefits available under California workers' compensation law to individuals who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a work related death. It should be noted that work related deaths are not always the result of a specific injury (e.g., construction worker from Lancaster, California who sadly fell to his death on a Los Angeles, California construction project).

Sometimes work related stress causes hypertension, leading to death due to cardiac arrest years after a determination that the work related stress caused hypertension; this may also qualify as a work related death under California workers' compensation law and raises a host of issues best litigated by a skilled California workers' compensation attorney.

Nobody expects to suffer a work related death but they are more common than most people think. A report regarding work related deaths from 2012 indicated that the majority of specific injuries that caused work related deaths were construction workers; ranchers, farmers and other agricultural workers; truck drivers and traveling salespeople; power workers; garbage collectors; steel and iron workers; roofers; pilots and flight engineers; fishing and related jobs; and logging. Other work related death claims that the Law Office of Scott. A. Schwartz handles are brought on behalf of individual within the State of California, who receive, at least in part, financial support from brave police officers and firefighters who have sustained direct or indirect work related deaths as a result of their jobs.

The landscape of California workers' compensation death benefits to family members under California workers' compensation law changed in 2006. The California legislature had previously made provision for a work related death award of $250,000 to the estate of a deceased worker with no dependents for work related injuries that resulted in death. However, the California Labor Code provision that made such death benefits available was repealed

California workers' compensation law provides the operative analysis relating to work related death benefits. An analysis of an individual's legal status as a "total dependent" or "partial dependent" of the individual who sustained a work related death is a good starting point. The foregoing analysis requires a knowledgeable California workers' compensation attorney to perform an analysis as to whether an individual is somehow a "total dependent" or "partially dependent" on an individual who suffers a work related death in California. A skilled California workers' compensation attorney will also evaluate whether any individual associated with an individual who sustained a work related death qualifies as a presumptive "total dependent" under California workers' compensation law.

As you may have likely gathered by now based on the foregoing, California workers' compensation law presently affords benefits to "total dependents" or "partial dependents" of an individual who loses their life in connection a work related death in California. The analysis is not simple and an individual trying to figure this out on their own risks not receiving the total death benefits to which they may be entitled. Simple examples that an individual may miss in trying to perform their own analysis of the situation include whether somebody may qualify as a presumptive "total dependent" of the deceased worker; or, an individual may be considered a "total dependent" even though they were no longer a "total dependent" upon the actual date of death of deceased worker? Again, the analysis of who is entitled to death benefits is best performed by a skilled California workers' compensation attorney. Each case is unique and requires special attention.

By Scott A. Schwartz

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