Compensation in Construction Worker Wrongful Death Cases

Your spouse’s fatal construction accident surely caused an upheaval in your life. In addition to your grief and anguish, you might be worried about making ends meet and paying for any bills related to the accident, like medical or funeral costs. Through workers’ compensation and, in some cases, a lawsuit, families may recover compensation for damages related to a wrongful death on a construction site.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Death Benefits Calculations

Section 307 of the state’s workers’ compensation law lays out how death benefits are paid based on the presence of a spouse and/or children. For example, if there are no children, the spouse will receive 51 percent of wages up to the statewide average weekly wage.

If there are children but no spouse, then the guardian of the children receives the death benefits based on the number of children:

  • one child: 32 percent of wages;
  • two children: 42 percent of wages;
  • three children: 52 percent of wages;
  • four children: 62 percent of wages;
  • five children: 64 percent of wages; and
  • six or more children: 66 and 2/3 percent of wages.


If the guardian of the deceased’s children is also the spouse and there’s one child, the spouse will get 60 percent of wages. If there are two children, the survivors get 66 and 2/3 percent of wages. There are other stipulations based on relationships among the decedent, children, widow/widower and children’s guardians that claimants should discuss with an attorney.

A Lawsuit Including Third-Party Liability

Workers’ compensation is available regardless of fault. It also prevents the worker from suing the employer if the employer or a coworker is to blame for the accident. But construction sites comprise workers from a number of companies and involve various contractors and sub-contractors.

So if a third party that is not your loved one’s employer or coworker is to blame for his or her fatal injuries, you may have grounds for a third-party liability claim. For instance, if a property owner provided unsafe scaffolding or other property hazards, the owner may be liable if your loved one fell or otherwise became fatally injured due to the hazard.

If another contractor creates a hazard, then that contractor may be liable for the fatal injuries. And if your loved one was using defective equipment – construction workers must use various types of equipment throughout the day – then the manufacturer may be liable for an accident if the defect caused the accident and fatal injuries.

Be sure to speak with your attorney about how filing a lawsuit will affect workers’ compensation benefits – which may mean the workers’ comp insurer can recover its costs from a third-party lawsuit settlement or judgment. Your attorney can provide further case-specific information.

If you need to discuss the wrongful death case of a construction worker in the Doylestown area, call Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-642-2335 or set up your free initial consultation online.