Double Death Benefits? (California)

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Double Death Benefits? (California)

Postby 50Cal20 on Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:38 pm

It's time for a good war story. One of my favorites is the saga of poor Beverly Jean Nichols which occurred back on July 31, 1968. Both her parents, Bobby and Agnes Nichols, were employed by Skyhawk, a crop dusting firm. Bobby was a pilot while Agnes was his flagman on the ground. On that faithful day Bobby failed to notice a telephone wire strung across his flight path. It snagged the plane while Bobby was spraying a field. The plane flipped over and crashed straight down right into the ground. Unfortunately it also crashed right on top of his wife. Both Bobby and Agnes died on the spot. They were survived by a minor child, Beverly Jean Nichols. In the workers' compensation death claims that followed the defendant insurance company, INA, admitted liability but was shocked when the judge awarded double death benefits. The judge relied on a conclusive presumption that the minor child Beverly Jean, was 100% dependent on the parent she resided with at the time of accident. Beverly Jean lived with both parents. Thus double death benefits were awarded. INA appealed and basically said, "Do the math. How could a child be 100% dependent on one parent and also 100% dependent on the other? That's 200%, a mathematical impossibility." INA further argued that only one death benefit should have apply, 50% for each parent resulting in a 100% total dependency claim. On appeal the WCAB upheld the judge's decision and awarded double death benefits. A subsequent writ of review was denied.
The morale of the story: Under the California Workers' Compensation System 100 + 100 = 100.
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