Workers’ Compensation 5 : Parental Rights
Q: My son was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth, and afterwards they had contact on only two brief occasions. In addition to providing no emotional or nurturing support, the mother failed to provide financial support. Despite economic obstacles, I raised our son alone.
Tragically, my son’s life was taken when he perished while at work. My son was unmarried and had no dependents. I filed a claim for the death benefit provided by Workers’ Compensation Law §16 (4-b). You guessed it: his mother has reappeared out of the woodwork and intervened in the claim, seeking one half of the benefit.
A: I am afraid that the Workers’ Compensation Board has interpreted the term ‘parent’ in § 16 (4-b) as meaning simply the biological father and mother of a child and that the courts have agreed. Unless the mother’s parental rights were terminated pursuant to the Social Services Law or you have grounds for getting her share cut by the Family Court, the mother gets half.
Parents who fail to provide for or who abandon their child are expressly disqualified by statute from inheriting from a child who dies intestate and from receiving the proceeds of an action for the wrongful death of the child. However, the Legislature has provided no comparable exclusion in the Workers’ Compensation Law. Our courts have reasoned that this omission is an indication that no such exclusion was intended.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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