Can the family sue for wrongful death if their loved one received workers’ comp death benefits?

Rhode Island workers’ compensation statutes guarantee benefits to injured workers regardless of fault, which is beneficial to both workers and employers. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, an injured employee is prohibited from suing an employer for any costs related to the accident. However, there may be exceptions to this rule for the survivors seeking compensation after the wrongful work death of a loved one.  

How Survivors Get Compensation After a Wrongful Work Death

If your spouse or loved one died in a wrongful work death, you may experience many different kinds of loss. You may face economic problems caused by lost income and  financial difficulties due to medical bills and funeral costs. But surviving family members may obtain compensation through: Families filing for wrongful death

  • Workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation should pay for any medical bills that were incurred due to a work-related death. In addition, workers’ comp death benefits provide up to $15,000 to the deceased employee’s dependents to help with funeral and burial expenses, as well as weekly wage payments to the deceased employee’s spouse. However, workers’ compensation does not allow for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and punitive damages.
  • A lawsuit against a negligent employer. Workers’ compensation death benefits often provide far less than the surviving family members need to recover. For this reason, Rhode Island law allows family members to sue employers in cases where an employer directly or deliberately caused the action that resulted in their loved one’s death. These kinds of cases take extensive legal knowledge to win, since survivors must prove that a company deliberately and knowingly placed their loved one in unreasonable danger.
  • Third-party cases. If you are barred from suing your loved one’s employer, you can still sue another party whose negligence contributed to the death. These third-party claims involve someone other than the employer (such as a property owner, maintenance company, project manager, or defective product manufacturer), and there are no limits on the types of damages that may be collected.

If your loved one died in a work accident, our attorneys can gather evidence on your behalf and help get you the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum via our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation at no cost to you.