Deaths at the Workplace
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Most people know that if they are injured on the job, they can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to help cover the cost of medical treatment and lost wages. However, many are unaware that if a loved one passes away while at work, his or her dependents will be eligible to receive benefits as well. Unfortunately, filing for workers’ compensation death benefits can be a complicated process, as only certain beneficiaries can receive compensation, so if your loved one was injured so severely at work that he or she passed away, it is critical to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can walk you through the claims filing process.
If an employee dies as a result of an on-the-job accident, his or her dependents will be eligible to receive two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage or a maximum of $575 per week. However, benefits will only be provided if the employee’s injury or illness arose out of and in the course of employment. This means that the decedent must have been performing assigned job duties during assigned work hours in order to be covered by workers’ compensation. For example, deaths that occur while an employee is commuting to or from work are usually not covered by workers’ compensation. However, the on-site injury does not have to have been the sole cause of the death in order to trigger a claim for compensation. For example, even if an injury aggravated a disease or a condition that contributed to the decedent’s death, his or her beneficiaries should be eligible to receive compensation. If an employee’s death is unclear, a presumption will exist as to the cause of the death if:
Qualified dependents who may collect benefits on behalf of a deceased loved one fall under one of two categories:
Only surviving spouses and the children of the decedent are considered primary beneficiaries, while the rest fall under the second category. In the event that a decedent left behind a surviving spouse and children, the entire amount of benefits will be split between those beneficiaries unless they waive the right to receive compensation. However, if there is only one primary beneficiary, that individual will receive the entire amount of benefits. In most cases, benefits are paid to a surviving spouse to be used on behalf of any minor children, although the Georgia SBWC does have the power to decide on a different payment schedule. For instance, if the decedent’s current spouse is not the mother of one or more of the children, the SBWC may require the benefits to be put into a trust for the children.
If the deceased left behind a widow or widower, but no children, he or she will be limited to collecting a total of $230,000. Workers’ compensation will also provide enough funds to cover reasonable funeral expenses. However, if the surviving spouse remarries or begins cohabiting with someone else of the opposite sex, the benefits will be terminated. Otherwise, he or she will continue receiving benefits until he or she reaches the maximum legal limit.
If the decedent left behind dependent children, the surviving spouse will be permitted to receive benefits until the age of 65 years old or for a period of 400 weeks. This is true even if the amount exceeds the $230,000 cap. Alternatively, if the decedent is survived only by dependent children, those individuals will be able to receive benefits until the age of 18 years old. However, if the child remains enrolled full time in high school or college, he or she can continue receiving benefits until the age of 22 years old. If the dependent child is physically or mentally incapable of earning a living, he or she can continue receiving benefits for as long as he or she remains a dependent.
Secondary beneficiaries, on the other hand, are only allowed to receive benefits if:
Secondary beneficiaries are those who were dependent upon the decedent, but were not spouses or children. For instance, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, or friends all satisfy the criteria of a secondary beneficiary. Before these individuals can receive benefits, they must be able to establish that their dependency existed at least three months prior to the decedent’s injury.
There are two types of secondary beneficiaries: total secondary dependents, who were completely dependent on the decedent for support, and partial secondary dependents who were only partially dependent on the deceased. As long as there is a total secondary dependent, no partial secondary dependents will be permitted to receive benefits. Furthermore, these individuals can receive benefits for the duration of their dependency, which could mean that they will receive lifetime benefits. However, if there are no primary beneficiaries or totally dependent beneficiaries, then partial secondary dependents can receive benefits. For partially dependent secondary beneficiaries, benefits will end when they reach the age of 65 years old or after 400 weeks of benefits.
If, after an employee has passed away, his or her dependents have not begun receiving benefit payments, those individuals must file a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) within one year after their loved one’s death. If they fail to file before this deadline, they will lose the right to collect workers’ compensation death benefits.
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult ordeals that a person can go through, especially when the death was unexpected. Fortunately, the family members of employees who lose their lives on the job will not be left without a safety net, as they will usually be able to collect benefits through workers’ compensation. To learn more about workers’ compensation death benefits, please contact the Spillers Law Firm by calling (678) 208-0800 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled and compassionate Georgia personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.
Georgia Workers Compensation Attorney
At Spillers Law Firm, we never lose sight of our number one goal — to obtain maximum compensation for you. Whether your case requires litigation, negotiation or simply waiting for the best settlement offer, we know how to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.
These settlement amounts are more than just money. They are a means of regaining the peace of mind, safety and security that was taken from you when you were injured.
Our clients often express just how much they truly appreciate the genuine concern and compassion shown by our staff. They also appreciate our attorneys’ willingness to wait for a better settlement or for an opportunity to litigate. This means that he does not settle for the first offer that comes along. The goal is maximum compensation for our clients.
For a FREE case evaluation from a Georgia workers compensation attorney, contact Charles Spillers today.
"Just wanted to say thank you for all the work you did for me. I would have been lost without your help. I will send all of my friends and relatives to you."M.S.
"I highly recommend Charles, he represented me for my personal injury claim and got excellent results. The insurer offered only $6000.00, he tried my case and got a jury verdict of $327,000.00."L.T.