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L&I Workers’ Comp Death Benefits


In an ideal world, every L&I workers’ comp claim would ultimately end with total recovery, and the injured worker being able to return to work. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

What Kinds Of L&I Workers’ Comp Death Benefits Are Available?

A workplace injury or occupational illness that results in death entitles the injured worker’s spouse and dependents to L&I death benefits, also known as L&I survivor pensions, including the following:

  • A one-time immediate payment to the deceased’s spouse or registered domestic partner
  • Monthly survivor pensions
  • Burial reimbursements

What Is A One-Time Immediate Payment?

A one-time immediate payment will be made to the deceased worker’s spouse or registered domestic partner, child, or dependent when a death is related to an industrial injury or occupational illness. The amount of the immediate payment is 100 percent of the average monthly wage in the state.

Who Is Eligible For L&I Workers’ Comp Death Benefits?

If a worker dies as a result of their injury, their spouse or registered domestic partner, child, or dependent may be eligible for an L&I workers’ comp death benefits.

  • If the decedent was married prior to the workplace injury or occupational illness and remained married until death, their spouse or domestic partner would be eligible to receive any benefits awarded to you for the duration of your lifetime.
  • If the decedent leaves no surviving spouse, partner, or child behind then other qualified dependents can receive benefits equal to half the average monthly support received by the dependent during the year preceding the injury. The benefit limit is 65 percent of the worker’s wage or maximum benefit level, whichever is less, for all dependents. The payments end when the necessity that created the dependency would have ended had the injury not occurred. Dependents eligible to receive benefits must have been dependent on the worker’s earnings prior to their death and can include parents, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, and or nephews.

What Are L&I Burial Benefits?

L&I will pay burial benefits if an injured worker dies as a direct result of an injury or occupational disease. The amount awarded will depend on the date of death See Death and Burial Rates Chart.

How Do I File An L&I Claim For Workers’ Comp Death Benefits?

During this emotional time, it is important to follow the correct steps to file an L&I claim to ensure that you and your loved ones receive the compensation to which you are entitled. Hiring an experienced L&I attorney to help you during this time will be greatly beneficial as you navigate the claims process.

How To File An L&I Claim For Workers’ Comp Death Benefits

If the fatality took place at work, you have three options to file a Washington State L&I claim:

Who Can File An L&I Claim For Workers’ Comp Death Benefits?

A beneficiary must file the L&I claim for workers’ comp death benefits. Qualified beneficiaries are a spouse, registered domestic partner, or child. If there are no beneficiaries, then a qualified dependent (see above) may file the claim.

To file an L&I claim for workers’ comp death benefits in Washington State, you must provide the following:

  • An application filed before the statute of limitations (SOL) ends
  • Marriage certificate
  • Death certificate
  • If minor children are involved, then birth certificates and custody documents (if any)

The SOL to file for death benefits is one year from the injury that led to death and two years or more for the occupational disease that led to death.

Close-up photo, lawyer's hand counts l&i death benefits on a calculator, man sitting at a table paperwork.png

What If There Is An Open L&I Claim At The Time Of Death?

If there is an open L&I claim at the time of the worker’s death, the surviving spouse, domestic partner, child, or other dependents can make a formal request to L&I that the benefits pass to them. Benefits included are:

  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): If decedent had time-loss benefits or had received a PPD award still owed by L&I at the time of death, it should be paid to one of the aforementioned parties. If none of these parties come forward, then according to the will; if none come forward, then according to intestate distribution scheme. RCW 51.32.040(2).
  • L&I Disability Pension: An L&I disability pension is a special category of pension only awarded to the most severely injured If the decedent’s status immediately prior to an unrelated deathwas that they could never work again, then the workers’ benefits can pass to one of the aforementioned parties.

What is Wrongful Death?

According to the Washington State Legislature RCW 4.20.010, wrongful death happens when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another person. Wrongful death is different than an L&I death benefit. A claim for L&I death benefits requires that the death happened in the workplace, whereas wrongful death requires proof of fault that the death was caused by another person who is not the employer or a coworker of the decedent.

Wrongful death can result from a number of circumstances:

Can I Have Both An L&I Death Benefit Claim And A Wrongful Death Claim?

Yes, you can have both an L&I death benefit claim and a wrongful death claim. This results in a third-party claim. L&I states that third-party claims are fault-based, therefore the negligence of the third party must be proven. Unlike workers’ compensation payments, there is no limit to the amount of compensation an injured worker may seek in third-party damages.

What If The Worker’s Death Was By Suicide?

PTSD, trauma, and work-related mental health issues can be just as devastating for workers as suffering a physical workplace injury. Unfortunately, these issues can become more than the worker can handle and they may choose to end their life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, we urge you to get help:

L&I And Suicide

It can be difficult to obtain the decedent’s L&I benefits in the case of a worker’s suicide. L&I looks closely at cases involving suicide, including whether it was premeditated, and how and why it occurred. Getting the advice of an experienced L&I attorney is incredibly important in this difficult time and situation.

In order to receive L&I death benefits after suicide your case must meet certain criteria. The survivor must show the following:

  • The worker’s injury directly caused a mental derangement that led to suicide and that it was not premeditated.
  • The suicide occurred from an uncontrollable impulse.
  • An allowed medical opinion agree that the suicide was due to said uncontrollable impulse.

How Do I Know If I Have A Case?

The bottom line is that anyone who isn’t familiar with L&I claims should seek the input of experienced L&I attorneys who are.

After years of helping injured workers, Emery | Reddy, PLLC has recovered millions for our clients. Our team of L&I attorneys is experienced in litigating and L&I claims, injury law claims, and employment violations. We understand how to leverage each claim in state (or federal) court and before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals to maximize the value of all of your claims.

Timothy Emery in the downtown seattle emery reddy offices

Emery | Reddy Can Help You With Your L&I Claim

Emery | Reddy is the only law firm in Washington State that is equipped to provide comprehensive representation on your case from every angle. We thoroughly assess every case to determine if our clients have additional claims, and at times this can extend far beyond the underlying workers’ compensation claim.

If you have been injured in the workplace call Emery | Reddy today to speak with our legal team for a free case review. Please remember to have your L&I claim number readily available.

Want More Information?

L&I Disability Pension

If you sustain a serious or life-changing injury, and you’re no longer able to work, you could be entitled to a Washington State L&I disability pension.


The L&I workers’ compensation process is anything but straightforward. Find out the answers to your L&I workers’ comp questions today.

Time-Loss Benefits

If you’ve been injured at work and have an open L&I Claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you have the right to L&I time-loss compensation in Washington State, also known as wage replacement benefits.

Meet The Team

The L&I attorneys at Emery | Reddy are passionate about helping workers with the L&I claims and employment law issues. We Help Workers®: it’s our motto and what drives us every day.

We know how L&I and big companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our L&I attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over two decades of experience to help our clients get access to the L&I benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.

If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, please call us and see how Emery | Reddy can help you today.

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Timothy W. Emery

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Patrick B. Reddy

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Karolina S. Arthur

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Paul Cipriani, Jr.

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