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What Families Should Know About Workers’ Comp. Death Benefits

Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2015
Blog, Workers' Compensation

Sadly, many people every year succumb to injuries they first sustained at work. If the person who passed away provided at least some of your financial support, you are likely entitled to workers’ comp death benefits. This is true whether your family member died instantly or several years after the original injury.

Most Common Types of Fatal Employee Injuries

According to a 2012 Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) report, the fatal injuries that occur with the most regularity include transportation accidents, contact with equipment, falls, chemical or environmental exposure, fires or explosions, and assaults in the workplace. Men are at significantly higher risk for fatal workplace injuries than women.

Compensation Available to Dependent Family Members

Florida, like most states, includes funeral and burial costs as part of its workers’ compensation program. Benefits are also available to immediate family members who depended on the deceased for support. This normally includes a spouse and children, but can include parents and other family members if they were financially dependent.

State law provides payment of up to 66 2/3 percent of the deceased’s normal weekly salary. The paid amount cannot exceed $150,000 total. If the employee was married without children, his or her spouse is entitled to 50 percent of the weekly wages. When the marriage involved children, the spouse is entitled to 50 percent and 16 2/3 percent goes to the children. The dependent children of workers who were not married can each receive up to 33 1/3 percent of the worker’s weekly earnings.

Workers’ compensation payments don’t happen automatically. It is up to the surviving family members to initiate it by filing the required paperwork. Anyone who is uncertain of how to do this should first seek legal help. This is also true of non-traditional family members who relied on the deceased worker for support. This is because the law can get complicated if the person making the claim was an unmarried partner of the deceased, a dependent stepchild or otherwise doesn’t meet the definition of close relative.