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My father died at his job. Can I file a wrongful death claim?

Wrongful death claims are a common part of the American legal system, creating a fair way to compensate those who lose a loved one because of someone else's negligence or malicious actions.

However, when a death occurs in the course of a person's work, pursuing a wrongful death claim is not always the answer. In many cases, workers' compensation benefits prevent a wrongful death suit or make it unnecessary.

Wrongful death suit or workers' compensation claim?

If your father died at work, then it is very likely that his employer's workers' compensation policy will pay out benefits. While not all states require insurers to offer this type of coverage, California does provide death benefits to those who lose a loved one on the job.

Depending on the way that your father died and whether or not someone else's negligence caused his death, workers' compensation benefits may be the only viable option for recovering any monetary compensation for your loss.

If your father died in an accident at work, but there was no negligence involved, you want to focus on working with an experienced attorney to maximize the workers' compensation death benefits.

It is worth noting that the state of California places a cap on how much workers' compensation can pay out in death benefits for an individual -- about $320,000. There is also a one-year window to claim the benefits.

On the other hand, if your father died because of someone else's negligence, then you may want to consider a wrongful death suit.

Wrongful death lawsuits against an employer

To successfully bring a wrongful death suit against an employer, the circumstances of your father's death must meet a couple of standards.

First, you must prove the negligence or misconduct of another person resulted in your dad's death while in the course of his work. This might mean that someone was unsafely operating machinery and your father suffered the consequences.

Secondly, you must demonstrate that your father's death resulted in some monetary loss or expense for you or his other surviving dependents. Since your dad worked for an employer, showing loss of income may be a good place to start. However, it is possible that your father's death created costs, too.

You should also note that a person whose negligence resulted in your father's death may face criminal charges, and this is a separate matter from your potential wrongful death suit. If you choose to file for wrongful death, you must do so on top of the criminal charges he or she may already face.

If your situation meets these standards, then you should not hesitate to consult with an experienced attorney about your case.

You don't have to fight for justice alone

It is hard enough to lose a parent under any circumstances, and dealing with the stress of filing a wrongful death claim can greatly add to the burden. The good news is that you do not have to fight this battle on your own.

With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that your rights remain secured as you pursue justice for your father's death and fair compensation for your loss.

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