If you are a family member of a deceased worker who died because of a work-related accident or illness, you could be entitled to workers' compensation death benefits. Your eligibility to draw benefits largely depends on your familial relationship to the deceased and whether or not you were financially dependent upon them. While the guidelines do vary depending on the state, read below for basic information about workers' compensation and death benefits.
Who is Eligible for Death Benefits?
Most states deem those who were financially dependent on the deceased eligible for death benefits. This commonly includes:
- Spouses (it should be noted that in some states the spouse's income is taken into consideration in the benefit determination).
- Children under the age of 18.
- Children under the age 25 who are enrolled in college.
- Children over the age of 18 who are mentally or physically disabled.
Worker's Compensation Death Benefits Determination
The death must have occurred as a result of a work-related accident or illness, or as a result of medical condition that was worsened by work-related factors. The death does not have to actually occur at work for benefits to be available, however. For example, if your family member suffered from heart disease that was not necessarily related to work, but had a heart attack and later died as result of a minor accident that occurred while at work, you will likely be able to draw death benefits.
Benefits Available and Duration
- Amounts available for benefits are generally based on the deceased's salary, with a two-thirds percentage of that salary payable. This percentage varies from state to state.
- Burial benefits are available in some states.
- Medical expenses are usually covered in full.
- Most states set limits on total amounts paid out, which sometimes must be divided between all eligible dependents.
- Benefits will be paid out either weekly or one-time lump sum.
- Generally, surviving spouses will no longer be eligible for benefits once they remarry.
- Children will only receive benefits until they are 18, unless they are disabled.
- Some states pay benefits for a set of amount of time.
Your loved one's death is undoubtedly a devastating experience, but as time passes the financial impact of the loss of income will come to bear and only add to you and your family's suffering. If you and your family members meet the requirements to receive workers' compensation death benefits, don't delay in seeking the monetary damages that you need and deserve. Some worker's compensation benefits have strict deadlines for applying. If you feel that you are not receiving the attention you deserve from the workers' compensation insurance company handling your loved one's case, don't hesitate to contact a group of workers compensation lawyers as soon as possible.