Can I Receive Death Benefits from a Workers' Comp Claim?

December 3, 2015

Have you suffered the loss of a loved one due to their work-related injury? Well, if you answered yes, then you may be eligible for death benefits through the employer’s workers’ compensation plan.


If you have questions regarding eligibility, you should speak to a personal injury attorney to learn of your entitlement under the plan. You should also discuss the amount that you could receive and the length of time you should receive it.


Every state has its own workers’ compensation claim rules. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to discuss what the state allows and the precise rules associated with your particular claim.


Prior to even filing a claim for workers’ comp death benefits, be sure to speak to an attorney first. It will save you the headache and frustration. The first thing is to ask is whether you are eligible or not for workers’ compensation death benefits.


All in the Family


In most cases, children and spouses are the ones to receive the death benefits. Some other family members may also be considered eligible, especially if the family member is named as a beneficiary and if the family member is known to have lived with the deceased person as a dependent or possible caregiver.


Most individuals entitled to death benefits will be termed as the deceased person’s “dependent”. Usually, if the spouse is still living and the marriage was intact, the spouse would be considered a dependent, no matter what the two incomes were at the time of the death.


In the case of children who are over the age of 18 and have any type of mental or physical disabilities, they too qualify to be termed as dependents. In some states, children who are under the age of 25 but over the age of 18 years and enrolled in an educational institution may qualify for death benefits.


For every other member of the family, the determination for eligibility is made on a case by case basis.


To receive workers’ compensation death benefits, the person’s injury must have occurred on the job or from an occupational disease at work. Additionally, you may be awarded death benefits even if the person’s condition was not related to the job, but their job or an injury at work contributed to or accelerated the person’s death.


An example of this is a wife with a chronic heart disease unrelated to the job, but an involvement in an accident at work caused her condition to worsen, leading to her death. A personal injury lawyer would be able to help the husband in this scenario figure out whether he is eligible for death benefits or not.


How Much, and For How Long?


Now the question is - what amount should you expect for death benefits? And what is the assessed time period? Most death benefits are usually paid weekly and the employee’s wages are taken into consideration to come up with the exact amount. In most cases, the amount is two-thirds the employee’s average wage per week.


The total amount may differ due to the minimum and maximum amount mandated by law. Some states will pay a lump sum rather than a weekly installment. Even with states that pay weekly installments, a personal injury attorney may be able to settle on your behalf for a one-time lump sum.


Time limits are also placed on how long you will receive the death benefits. In most states, it could be until a surviving spouse remarries or when dependent children get to the age of 18 and/or have completed education in a post secondary institution.


If you have lost a loved one due to a work-related disease or injury, it may be time to consult with an attorney so that you can discuss specifics of your case in order to receive the appropriate benefits. Contact an experienced attorney to learn of your eligibility for workers’ compensation death benefits.

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