Death Benefits in Workers’ Compensation Cases
Unfortunately, not all workplace injuries end with the worker healing up and getting back to work.
In the worst cases, the injured employee dies as a result of their work-related illness or injuries.
When this happens, the worker’s family receives death benefits to help defray the cost of a funeral and to provide at least a portion of the deceased’s regular pay to help ease the burden.
If this has happened to you, you need an experienced, compassionate attorney to help guide you through the process of filing for and receiving death benefits. At Lopez Law Firm, we work hard to get you the benefits you deserve.
What Are Death Benefits?
Death benefits are a specific type of workers’ compensation benefits aimed at the surviving family members of workers who die from work-related injuries and illnesses.
There are a few different types of death benefits typically offered.
These benefits are paid by the workers’ compensation insurance company and can range from a couple thousand dollars to more than $10,000.
This money is intended to help the surviving family pay for funeral arrangements, including:
- Body preparation
- Funeral home costs
- Burial plot
- Burial costs
In addition to funeral benefits, certain family members are entitled to receive death benefits.
This is money paid, either in installments or in a lump sum, to surviving family members that’s intended to make up for some of the household income lost when the worker died.
Death benefits are paid for a certain period of time or up until a certain dollar amount.
Usually, if the family receives death benefits in a lump sum, they receive what would amount to a portion (usually two-thirds) of the deceased’s expected pay for a certain period of time, such as two years. So, if the deceased person was expected to make $100,000 each year, the family would receive $150,000, representing two-thirds of two years’ salary.
If the death benefits are to be paid in installments, the amount paid also represents a portion (usually two-thirds) of the expected pay for the installment period. These benefits are either paid for a specified amount of time, such as two years, or up until a certain cumulative dollar amount is reached.
For example, if the deceased made $1,000 per week, the family would receive $750 per week until the time or dollar amount cap is reached.
When determining who qualifies to receive death benefits, the requirements vary from state to state.
In nearly all cases, spouses and all children under the age of 18 qualify to receive death benefits. Some states extend eligibility to children over 18 who are enrolled in educational or vocational programs, or to children who are over 18 and have certain physical or mental disabilities that keep them from earning their own living.
If the deceased does not have a spouse or children, death benefits may be extended to parents, siblings, or other close relatives who lived with and depended upon that person’s income to pay living expenses.
Some states pay more in death benefits if the person has more dependents, while other states keep the amount of benefits level regardless of the number of dependents.
Regular Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In cases where a worker died, workers’ compensation also covers medical bills for treatment the person received prior to or related to their death.
These bills can include ambulance or transportation to a hospital, doctor exams, diagnostic tests and imaging, or surgery. Depending on the circumstances of the worker’s death, the insurance company may conduct a review of these bills to ensure that the treatment they are paying for was necessary and related to the person’s work-related injury or illness.
When Should I File a Claim for Death Benefits?
Like all workers’ compensation cases, there is a strict time limit on when you can file for death benefits.
In many states, you have one or two years from the death of the person or the last payment of disability benefits to file a claim. However, there may be stricter regulations where you live.
Because there are such strict time limits, it’s always better to file for these benefits as quickly as possible to avoid missing out on them.
Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Death Benefits in Washington, D.C.
When you’ve lost a loved one in a work-related accident, you need a legal team that can help you get the compensation you deserve with the least amount of frustration. At Lopez Law Firm, we understand that nothing we do will bring your loved one back, but our work can help ease a little of the burden of their passing. Schedule your consultation today.