Everyone probably knows by now that workers compensation pays for the medical bills of those injured on the job. What some don't know, however, is that this same form of insurance pays the survivors of workers who endured the worst kind of workplace injury and died as a result. Read on to learn more about this special type of workers comp benefit.
What benefits are available?
Just as a hurt worker can often receive a percentage of their salary while they recover from their injury, workers comp death benefits generally follow that same model. Qualifying family members may be paid about two-thirds of their loved one's former salary. The exact amounts can vary depending on the location, the salary of the worker and more. The remaining medical bills will be paid and usually the funeral expenses of the deceased as well.
How long can benefits be paid?
Hurt workers who are ruled to have a permanent injury may get offered a lump sum settlement and that is how the death benefit works too. You can expect, for example, for the surviving spouse to get paid either a lump sum or a structured amount that is calculated to be equal to a lifetime of pay, or a portion of that pay. Remarriage would end most death benefit payments for spouses. Minor children may cease getting benefits when they reach their majority or graduate college. There are usually caps on the total amount paid out and this amount is usually divided up between all those who qualify.
Who qualifies for this benefit?
It varies in every state but generally, those who were financially dependent on the worker are eligible, which means:
- Children under the age of 18 or those in college under the age of 25
- Disabled children of any age
What qualifies as a work-related death?
There may some confusion about how workers comp covers work-related injuries and deaths. The death need not actually occur at work and just because it does occur at work does not necessarily mean it is covered by workers compensation. If the death was caused by work or somehow related to the death then it will be covered.
For example, if your loved one suffered from high blood pressure and the stress of work made that condition so much worse that a heart attack occurred at home after work, it would be covered. If your spouse suffered from cancer, however, and just happened to pass away while at work, then it would not be considered a work-related injury unless it could be shown that work made the disease worse and hastened the death.
As you can see, there may be a fine line between these determinations. If you are being denied your rightful death benefits be sure to speak to a workers compensation attorney as soon as possible. The amount you are entitled to may be negotiable and you must have an advocate on your side during this stressful and difficult time.