Death in the Workplace: Workers’ Compensation Survivor Benefits
Most employers take careful steps to prevent workplace accidents whenever possible. Despite those precautions, however, devastating and even fatal accidents may occur in the workplace. Workers’ compensation survivor benefits cannot help bring back an individual lost in a workplace accident, but they can provide much-needed funds for the family of the deceased.
What are Workers’ Compensation Survivor Benefits?
Workers’ compensation survivor benefits are specific benefits paid out to the surviving employee when a worker dies on the job. Losing a loved one can prove incredibly traumatic. Death benefits are intended to help replace the deceased’s wages for a period of time.
Death benefits include two key elements. First, they can help pay funeral and burial expenses for the deceased. Next, they will generally pay out 50% of the employee’s average weekly wages to the surviving spouse, or 66% of the employee’s average weekly income for a surviving spouse and dependent children.
Who Qualifies for Survivor Benefits?
The surviving dependents of an individual who dies on the job will usually qualify for survivor benefits. In general, that means the deceased’s spouse or minor children. Determining whether someone is a true dependent may depend on several factors; however, the spouse and minor children of the deceased are usually considered to be presumptive dependents and may qualify for survivors’ benefits.
If the deceased does not have dependents, the deceased’s estate may have the right to recover some compensation.
Which Deaths Count for Benefits?
Workers’ comp survivor benefits are paid out by the workers’ comp insurance company used by the employer, not by the government. As a result, some companies may have their own policies on which deaths count for benefits. However, in general, you can expect that your family will qualify for benefits if your loved one dies as a direct result of a workplace accident.
That may include accidents that take place directly on the premises, like a construction accident, a fire at work, or a warehouse accident, or it may include accidents that take place while traveling as part of a workplace duty: for example, a delivery driver transporting goods for the company.
How Long Do Death Benefits Last?
Death benefits can, in some cases, last for several years after the individual’s death. Death benefits, depending on the specific policy, may be paid out until:
- The death of the beneficiary
- The remarriage of the deceased’s spouse
- A minor child comes of age or completes post-secondary education
Since death benefit payouts may vary by state, it’s important to consult a lawyer to determine how long you can expect to receive payments in a workers’ compensation survivor benefits claim.
Drawing those benefits for that period of time can make it possible for many families to rebuild their financial status despite the death of a loved one. In many cases, death benefits can make it possible for a surviving spouse to obtain better employment, including offering an opportunity for that spouse to go back to school.
How to File a Workers’ Comp Survivor Benefits Claim
Following the loss of a loved one, you may need to file a claim within a limited period of time after your loved one’s death. In most states, you may have just 1-2 years to file your claim. Ideally, you should start moving forward with that claim for yourself or your minor children as soon as possible.
First, make sure you notify the deceased’s employer about the incident. The employer may be able to provide you with more information about how to proceed with your claim.
Next, the employer will notify the insurer. You may need to fill out some paperwork or provide information about the deceased’s dependents before the employer can file that claim.
Next, you will receive a Notice of Reported Injury. From there, the insurance company will need to either deny or accept your claim.
A Lawyer Can Help with Your Workers’ Comp Survivor Benefits Claim
If you lost a loved one in a workplace accident, working with a lawyer can help you maximize the compensation you can recover and streamline the approval process.
Get Help Contacting the Insurance Company
Sometimes, you may have a hard time getting the deceased’s employer to move forward with an insurance claim. A survivor benefits claim can cause an increase in workers’ comp costs for the employer, so the employer may put off the claim as long as possible. A lawyer can help streamline that process and ensure that the insurance company gets your claim as soon as possible.
Improve the Odds of Claim Approval
A workers’ comp lawyer can offer a number of benefits in helping to increase the odds of claim approval. Not only can a lawyer help collect evidence that a workplace accident occurred, but a lawyer can also help ensure that all paperwork is filled out correctly, boosting the odds that you will receive compensation in a timely manner.
Do you have questions about the benefits you may deserve after the loss of a loved one in a workplace accident? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.