Workplace accidents can have devastating consequences, and in the most tragic cases, they can result in the loss of life. When such unfortunate incidents occur, workers comp death benefits help families deal with the financial impact.
Eligibility for Workers Compensation Death Benefits
Family members can receive workers’ comp death benefits when an employee dies because of work-related injury or illness. The worker’s death must occur within a year of the workplace accident.
If a work accident caused a continuous disability that ultimately led to the worker’s death, the surviving family members could still qualify for death benefits. In this case, the workplace accident or illness must have occurred within five years before the death.
What Family Members Can Receive Death Benefits?
Only certain family members are eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. These include the surviving spouse, children under 18, and children under 22 who are full-time students.
If the deceased employee has neither a spouse nor children, parents or grandchildren may be able to receive benefits. In all cases, family members must be dependents to qualify.
How Much Are Workers Comp Death Benefits?
The maximum payout of Florida’s workers’ compensation death benefits is $150,000. This covers the following expenses:
- Dependent Payments: These are payments made to the deceased worker’s qualifying dependents.
- Funeral Costs: The workers’ compensation death benefits provide reimbursement for funeral costs up to $7,500.
- Education Benefits: The decedent’s spouse may be eligible for education benefits.
The amount of workers’ comp death benefits varies based on the qualifying beneficiaries. Here’s an overview of the benefits allocated to different dependents of a deceased worker.
- Spouse: The surviving spouse is entitled to receive 50% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.
- Spouse and Children: The spouse receives 50% of the average weekly wage. The spouse may receive an extra 16 2/3% of the average weekly wage on behalf of the children.
- Only Children: If the worker had no spouse or the spouse passed away later, dependent children can receive 33 1/3% of the average weekly wage. The total benefits for children are limited to 66 1/3% of the worker’s original weekly wage.
- No Spouse or Child: Parents, if eligible, receive 25% of the average weekly wage. Grandchildren who qualify can receive 15% of the weekly wage.
Time Limit for Claiming Workers Comp Death Benefits
Florida law imposes a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which claims for death benefits must be filed. Generally, the claim must be filed within two years of knowing (or having reason to know) that the deceased person died of a work-related injury or illness.
Navigating the Claims Process
The process of filing a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits can be complex and daunting, especially during a time of grief. Here’s a general overview of the steps involved:
- Report the Death: The first step is to report the death to the employer as soon as possible. This is typically done by the deceased worker’s family or estate.
- File a Claim: The next step is to file a claim with the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This should be done promptly.
- Investigation: The insurance company will conduct an investigation to verify the details of the accident and determine whether the death was work-related.
- Decision: The insurance company will either approve or deny the claim. If the claim is approved, the insurance company will start paying benefits to the eligible dependents.
- Appeal: If the claim is denied, the family has the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process can be complex and may require presenting evidence at a hearing.
Contact Our Florida Workers’ Comp Lawyers Today
While no amount of money can replace a loved one, workers’ compensation death benefits can provide some financial stability to a bereaved family, helping them adjust to their new circumstances.
If you have lost a loved one to a work accident or occupational illness, our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help you. Contact Work Injury Rights at 954-833-5226 today for a free consultation.