What is the legal criteria to qualify as a dependent/claimant in a workers comensation case regarding a deceased person?

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What is the legal criteria to qualify as a dependent/claimant in a workers comensation case regarding a deceased person?

A law firm handling my deceased father’s workers comp settlement case only called one family member to inform them a case was being considered. Neither the family member or the law firm informed the family. A settlement was won and the family member, falsely claiming herself as the only dependent got the whole settlement. No other family members, who were rightful dependents had a chance to get anything. Is the law firm legally liable for not contacting other potential dependents of the deceased? Are the rightful dependents entitled to retro pay on the claim? Can we sue for malpractice over it?

Asked on May 3, 2011 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation.  The way that you have presented the facts here certainly gives rise to the concern that there was some negligence here in the handling of the mater, which is what you have to prove to go against the firm for malpractice.  The best way to proceed is to go and speak with an attorney in the area and present all the facts as you know them to be.  You do have to see if the law for qualification for "dependent coverage" under workers compensation applied to all of you that you claim were dependents. It can be very specific as to same.  You need to also check what the statute of limitations on filing a claim is and if the filing of the first claim precluded you in any way from also bringing a claim.  So you need the information as to the other lawsuit to give the attorney as well.  Good luck to you.


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