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New York lawmakers seek to provide COVID-19 death benefits for public workers

New York Workers' Compensation

Many public employees have risked their lives and health over the last few months while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. These include police officers, first responders, public health workers, mail deliverers and parking enforcers.

Recently, New York lawmakers have introduced legislation to provide death benefits for public employees who have died after becoming infected with COVID-19 while on the job, according to Business Insurance.

What are worker death benefits?

Worker death benefits are available to the closest surviving family members or estates of deceased workers. This may include a worker's spouse, children, dependents or other close relatives.

This would cover the cost of:

  • Medical expenses while the deceased worker was still alive
  • Two-thirds of the deceased worker's wages from the previous year
  • Burial expenses of up to $6,000 in NYC, and $5,000 in other areas of New York
  • Unpaid workers' compensation benefits while the deceased worker was still alive

Death benefit payments may be split up among closest survivors. A spouse who divorced a worker would not be eligible for death benefits. If a spouse remarries, he or she may be eligible for benefits for up to two years.

Details about the COVID-19 deaths benefits bill

Democratic Senator Andrew Gounardes introduced Senate Bill 8420, which would establish a presumption applying to public employees who were required to physically attend work as of March 1. COVID-19 must have been determined to be contracted on the job and significantly contributed to death.

Under the provisions of S.B. 8420, these criteria must be met in order for a public employee to qualify for death benefits:

  • COVID-19 must have been contracted within 45 days of physically attending work
  • Must have tested positive or been diagnosed by a licensed healthcare practitioner before death
  • Must have tested positive for the virus after death

What to do if your loved one died from a work-related illness in New York

Pursuing workers' compensation claims can be highly complex, especially when pursuing benefits on behalf of a deceased worker. The best way to navigate a claim is to consult with an experienced New York workers' compensation attorney who understands how the legal process works.

The legal team at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law knows that dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult. That's why we're dedicated to helping our clients ensure that the proper paperwork is filled out and proper documentation is prepared for trial.

We'll also work with the insurance companies to help you get compensated to the fullest extent. Contact us online to learn how. We serve clients in the five boroughs of New York City and across New York State.

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