Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits can be paid to the survivors of a worker who dies from an occupational injury or illness. A dependent spouse, underage child or, in some cases, other relatives may be eligible to receive a portion of the income lost from their loved one’s death.
If you have lost a family member due to a work-related accident or illness, the Mann Law Firm wants you to know the following:
What Do Death Benefits Provide?
Workers’ compensation pays death benefits to immediate family members that are similar to the benefits provided to workers who suffer non-fatal injuries and illnesses.
These benefits include weekly income benefits that are equal to two-thirds of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage at the time of the accident for 400 weeks or until the recipient is no longer eligible. The amount of the weekly benefits cannot exceed a maximum amount that is determined on an annual basis.
Other benefits include:
- Reimbursement of reasonable medical expenses
- Burial expenses up to $7,500.
Death benefits are paid directly to medical care and funeral services providers and to the deceased worker’s spouse and qualifying children or other relatives.
Those eligible to receive death benefits include the worker’s surviving spouse as well as children who are:
- Younger than age 18 or enrolled full-time in high school
- Younger than age 22 and enrolled full-time and in good standing at a college, university or other post-secondary institution of higher learning
- Older than age 18 and physically or mentally incapable of earning a livelihood.
Dependent children, including stepchildren, legally adopted children, posthumous children and acknowledged children born out of wedlock qualify for death benefits as long as they meet the criteria above. Married children do not qualify for death benefits.
A surviving spouse receives weekly payments until age 65 or 400 weeks, whichever is longer. If the surviving spouse remarries or co-habitates with a partner, his or her eligibility terminates.
Also, if the husband and wife lived separately for 90 days immediately prior to the accident that resulted in the employee’s death, the spouse’s total dependence on the deceased (and qualification for a benefit) can be challenged.
If the deceased left behind no fully dependent family members, workers’ compensation provides death benefits to family members who were partially dependent upon the deceased worker, such as parents or stepparents.
The amount of this benefit is calculated as the deceased’s weekly contribution for support divided by the average weekly wage and multiplied by the benefit payable to a person wholly dependent on the deceased.
How Do I Apply for Death Benefits?
Georgia law presumes that if a worker dies or is found in a dying condition at work, or in a place where he or she is supposed to be while working, then the worker died from an injury or disease arising out of and in the course of employment.
A death at a workplace must be reported by the employer to its workers’ compensation insurer. The insurer must inform the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Board. The workplace injury or illness may already be the subject of a workers’ compensation claim that was filed before the employee’s death.
The insurer handling the deceased worker’s claim should contact the listed next of kin about processing a death benefits claim.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Obtain Death Benefits?
A workers’ compensation attorney can help in many ways to protect a dependent’s rights after their loved one’s death due to a job-related injury or illness.
Even in a straightforward death benefits claim, survivors may find that the employer or insurer disputes or acts slowly to process the claim. A lawyer can ensure that your claim is processed correctly and promptly. We can also represent you in a hearing if your claim is challenged.
The Mann Law Firm is available to provide professional and compassionate legal representation to you and your family in the aftermath of a loved one’s death.
Contact us today. We serve clients throughout Macon and Middle Georgia.