What to Do if a Loved One Died in a Work-Related Accident
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Sarah E. Stottlemyer with Stottlemyer & Associates, LLC.
When a loved one dies due to a work-related accident or injuries, it can be difficult to know how to move forward. Not only do families struggle with the emotional loss of someone they cared for and depended on, but the financial ramifications can be significant as well, especially if the deceased was the primary wage-earner. Workers’ compensation is often credited as a way to cover medical bills and lost wages when someone is injured at work, but depending on the employer’s policy and state laws could also include death benefits. Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy purchased by an employer to protect them from liability in case of an accident, as well as to provide financial assistance to workers who are injured on the job.
The circumstances surrounding a worker’s death may indicate what kind of legal compensation a family is eligible to receive.
When someone is injured at work due to their employer’s or another party’s negligence, and they pass away due to those injuries, the case may be considered one of wrongful death. When wrongful death occurs, especially to the primary earner of a family, the effects can be devastating. In this situation, the family of the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim in addition to receiving workers’ compensation death benefits. However, if someone died in a work-related accident with no particular party at fault, the family of the deceased is not necessarily left alone in their recovery. Depending on your state’s workers’ compensation laws, it’s possible that the family of a deceased worker may be eligible to receive death benefits.
If you are unsure whether negligence played a part in your loved one’s death, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney; these attorneys have experience investigating work-related accidents and can help guide you to the legal option that is right for you.
Spouses, children, and other dependents are typically eligible to receive death benefits.
Not everyone is eligible to receive death benefits from their loved one’s workers’ compensation policy. In general, family members related by blood or marriage who depended in some capacity on that earner’s income may be eligible to receive death benefits. The laws regarding who qualifies as a dependent vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to look up the legislation in your area.
Death benefits via workers’ compensation are intended to help cover the loss of the deceased’s income.
Death benefits are often paid out in installments to the family of the deceased, and represent a certain percentage of the deceased’s income. The amount offered to a family in death benefits may vary depending on how many dependents the worker had as well as the state in which the accident occurred. Depending on the state, the minimum and maximum amount of compensation allowed to be paid to the family of a deceased worker may vary.
In some situations, death benefits may cease after a certain period of time, or may cease when a spouse remarries. Additionally, many workers’ compensation plans include coverage for at least a portion of the deceased’s funeral expenses in addition to any medical care they received before their death as a result of their work-related injuries. To learn more, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney.