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Bereaved Families Entitled to Death Benefits for Workplace Fatalities

Unfortunately, many jobs are inherently unsafe, such as work in chemical or industrial plants, boats and oil platforms, and construction. Nearly 40 percent of fatal workplace accidents involve transportation incidents, including accidents involving truck drivers, delivery workers and sales representatives. Men are victims of more than 90 percent of workplace fatalities, with workers age 65 and older at the highest risk.

When families lose a loved one because of a work-related injury or illness, they may be entitled to death benefits under workers’ compensation to pay for certain expenses and lost income. Only certain family members are eligible for death benefits:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Other dependents

In order to collect workers’ compensation benefits after the death of a worker, eligible family members must file a claim within a certain time period, not to exceed 240 weeks from the date of injury. If the death occurs within one year of the date of injury, families must file within one year from the date of death. If the death occurs more than one year from the date of injury, family members have one year from the date of death or from the date workers’ comp benefits were last paid to file a claim.

Eligible family members may recover a variety of workers’ comp benefits:

  • Reasonable burial expenses: Up to $5,000 for injuries before 2013 and $10,000 for injuries after 2013.
  • Death benefits: Paid at the total temporary disability rate with a minimum payment of $224.00 per week

How much in death benefits a family receives depends on the number of total and partial dependents. When there are minor children who were totally dependent on the fatally-injured worker, their benefits continue until the youngest minor turns 18. However, dependent disabled minors receive benefits for their lifetime.

Losing a loved one who was a wage earner can leave a family both emotionally and financially devastated. A compassionate workers’ compensation lawyer knows how to guide a family through their claim with sensitive and knowledgeable representation.

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