Workers compensation death benefits
If the decedent was in the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident, Arizona’s workers compensation laws usually apply. These laws provide death benefits for survivors of persons who are killed in a work related accident, unless the injury was purposely self-inflicted. (Arizona Revised Statutes, § 23-1021.) Employers are required to maintain workers compensation insurance. A special fund has been created for claimants in situations in which the employer fails to obtain workers compensation insurance. The workers compensation statutes specify who is entitled to benefits, the amount of benefits and the duration of benefits. (Arizona Revised Statutes, § 23-1046.)
In some circumstances, survivors of a person killed at work may be entitled to pursue both a workers' compensation claim and a claim under the wrongful death statutes. Under Arizona law, if a third-party (someone other than the employer or co-employee) causes or contributes to the death, the survivors may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits and also pursue a wrongful death claim against the third-party responsible for the accident. For example, the family of a factory worker is killed by a defective product may be entitled to benefits under both the workers compensation laws and a wrongful death claim against the company that manufactured or sold the defective product. A lawyer should always review any work related accident to determine if there is a potential claim against a third-party.
Arizona law, generally, prohibits bringing a wrongful death claim against the employer or co-employee if they are responsible for the accident. Instead, in these situations the survivors are limited to the benefits provided by the workers compensation laws.