"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
Michael A. Donahue died Dec. 14 in an industrial accident at Kennedy Valve, a factory in upstate New York. He was making repairs to a hydraulic tabletop in the factory’s mold department when the accident occurred. Donahue was a two-year veteran of the company.
The Syracuse district office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident. According to the Elmira Star Gazette, this was the third fatal accident at Kennedy Valve since 2003. The company makes water system valves and fire hydrants.
The area director of OSHA’s Syracuse office said that the agency will review the scene; interview witnesses, managers and union representatives; take photos and measurements; and review hazard and safety programs to determine what happened. He also said the agency has sent one investigator to the Elmira factory.
Federal officials will determine if there were any OSHA violations.
Grieving family members and dependents of a deceased worker can take some comfort in knowing that New York workers’ comp statutes provide a financial safety net in the form of death benefits for the loved ones of workers killed on the job. These state workers’ compensation death benefits may include partial income replacement and reasonable funeral expenses.
Workers’ compensation death benefits are specified by New York law. The death benefit distribution laws are complicated and vary with each situation, but beneficiaries may include, under certain circumstances, surviving spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents or dependents. If a worker without family passes away, the deceased’s estate may be eligible to receive a lump sum payment and money to cover funeral expenses.
If a third party was responsible for the death, loved ones of the worker should contact an experienced New York workers’ compensation lawyer.
The next of kin must file a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board whether the worker has passed away at work or due to an existing work-related injury or illness. Beneficiaries must meet all deadlines and other legal requirements for the workers’ comp death claim.
The death benefit is considered a separate claim from any other benefits received during the worker’s lifetime, including any workers’ compensation benefits for the injury that led to the death.
Work accidents often involve complex legal matters. Anyone whose spouse, parent, or other loved one died as the result of a workplace accident should contact a New York workers’ compensation lawyer to help them navigate the process.