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Difference Between Workers’ Compensation & Wrongful Death Claims

In rare but devastating circumstances, your loved one may lose their life in the course of their occupation. If your spouse or other loved one was the main financial provider for your family, you may be wondering what your options are. The truth is, you have a couple of viable options – but which works better for your family? Here are a couple of different avenues for financial recourse following an occupational death – and which may be better for your family.

Death Benefits Following an Accident

The workers’ compensation system works differently in each state. California, like many other states in the union, offers death benefits to the surviving family members in the event of a workplace tragedy. The amount of death benefits you’ll receive will depend on the number of total and partial benefits the deceased has, and this amount is determined by the California Department of Industrial Relations. The government pays out these benefits on a weekly basis, and the surviving dependents have one year to file a claim for benefits.

There are advantages and disadvantages to collecting death benefits. The main benefit is that you won’t need to prove your loved one’s negligence contributed to his or her death. Since California’s workers’ compensation program is a no-fault system, collecting death benefits is as easy as filing a claim. However, there are also a couple of big disadvantages. In collecting benefits through the no-fault system, you forfeit your right to sue your loved one’s employer for additional damages. Death benefits also do not compensate for intangible losses, like suffering, loss of partnership, or a decrease in quality of life. Finally, the state of California caps benefits at $320,000.

Wrongful Death

In many cases, employees cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries since they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. On the other hand, the survivors may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit in the event that someone loses their life on the job. In order to file a wrongful death suit, the surviving members of the family must prove:

  • That their loved one died as the result of someone else’s negligence, and;
  • The family suffered harm as a result. This could be a loss in income or earning capacity, as well as intangible losses.

There are advantages and disadvantages to wrongful death claims, as well. The main benefit is that families stand to gain greater compensation for a loved one’s death. They can sue for intangible losses and there are no damage caps. In some cases, such as when a death occurs from wanton misconduct, surviving family members can collect punitive damages. Such damages exist to punish defendants for gross wrongdoings and make an example of them to others.

The principal disadvantage of wrongful death suits is they can take a long time to settle or litigate. A proceeding may take months or even years.

Wrongful death claims and death benefits are different, and each option has its advantages and disadvantages. For further guidance, talk to a Wrongful Death attorney in Oakland.

#Metoo Movement Jolts the Judiciary

With the recent resignation of federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski, the rallying cry of the anti-sexual harassment and abuse movement is growing louder by the day. While it’s not surprising that the #Metoo movement has now reached the heights of the 9th Federal Circuit Court, its unrelenting message has sent a jolt through the judiciary.

Read full blog here

Winer & Burritt Associate, Shawn Tillis, Featured in Magazine

Winer, McKenna & Burritt Associate, Shawn Tillis, was featured in the Cover Story of the The Bar Association of San Francisco’s Fall 2017 San Francisco Attorney magazine. Mr. Tillis also serves on the board of the Alameda–Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association (ACCTLA).

Magazine online: http://www.sfbar.org/sfam_archives/2017/sfam_fall2017.aspx

Download PDF of article.

Winer, McKenna & Burritt Associate, Shawn Tillis, Featured in Magazine

Winer, McKenna & Burritt Associate, Shawn Tillis, was featured in the Cover Story of the The Bar Association of San Francisco’s Fall 2017 San Francisco Attorney magazine. Mr. Tillis also serves on the board of the Alameda–Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association (ACCTLA).

Magazine online: http://www.sfbar.org/sfam_archives/2017/sfam_fall2017.aspx

Download PDF of article.

Attorney John Winer Quoted in Wall Street Journal on Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

John Winer was quoted in the Wall Street Journal:  “Harassment Complaints Mount, But Successful Suits Remain Elusive”

“The number of inquiries hitting California attorney John Winer’s office each week has risen sharply since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke.

Women who endured unwanted touching at work, gay men harassed by co-workers, and others who say they were terminated for reporting inappropriate behavior have all asked him to consider taking their cases. 

But because of hurdles in the laws meant to protect workers from harassment, many of the inbound calls won’t become lawsuits. “We’re getting a lot of cases we just can’t bring,” said John Winer. To some potential clients who say they are finally ready to have their day in court, “I have to tell them their day is passed.”

Sexual Harassment Claims Hit Media Organizations

Many of our nation’s largest and most respected news organizations are no longer just breaking huge stories about workplace sexual harassment–powerful journalists are now the focus of these new stories. Some of the best-known members of the media have fallen from grace following sexual harassment claims.

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Sexual Harassment Knows No Gender, Industry, Sexual Orientation

While a significantly large portion of the people coming forward of late are women accusing men of some form of sexual misconduct, there are also many accounts of women sexually harassing men and men harassing men. In our time representing thousands of women and men who have been the victims of sexual harassment, we were already aware that this happens in Hollywood, Congress, the media, Silicon Valley and just about every other industry in our country. The nation is now beginning to understand just how pervasive it is, as well as the many forms it can take.

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