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Workers’ compensation is a type of workplace insurance commonly known for providing compensation for a potential work-related injury. It may cover lost wages while the injured party recovers or the cost of their medical expenses. But workers’ compensation is not just for survivors of a workplace injury. In the worst-case scenarios, workers' comp also includes death benefits.
These death benefits can help cover funeral expenses, medical expenses, and a loss of income after the death of a wage-earning household member. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the compensation process in the event of a personal tragedy.
To learn more about workers’ compensation death benefits, keep reading.
What Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Consist Of
One of the first questions people usually have about workers’ compensation death benefits is what it covers. Like other insurance policies with a death benefit, a workers’ compensation death benefit is designed to offer compensation to families of deceased wage earners so they can maintain their standard of living.
Workers' compensation death benefits include:
Funeral Coverage and Burial Expenses
This is the most immediate cost after a workplace death. Funerals can be expensive, which is why they are typically covered under death benefits by the insurance company. The compensation benefits should be enough to reasonably cover the funeral and memorial service, casket or urn, and burial or cremation costs.
Financial Support for Income Loss Based on the Deceased's Weekly Wages
The bulk of the death benefit will cover the sudden loss of income after a loved one’s death. Virginia workers’ compensation provides coverage for loss of income based on the deceased’s weekly wages. If they received a monthly or annual wage, this is divided accordingly to find a weekly wage. The maximum weekly death benefit payment is $1,082, with a minimum payment of $270.50.
The insurance carrier then pays wholly dependent current beneficiaries a weekly payment equal to two-thirds of the deceased’s weekly wages pre-injury.
Eligible Beneficiaries for Workers' Comp Death Benefits
Death benefit workers’ compensation beneficiaries are typically family members who are dependent upon the income of their deceased loved ones. In addition to the emotional grief from losing a loved one, these beneficiaries must also continue to pay bills, buy food, and care for children.
Some eligible beneficiaries include:
For a young married couple, the deceased's spouse will likely be the primary or only beneficiary of the workers’ compensation death benefit. When your spouse dies in a work-related accident, even if you have a job of your own, it can leave you in a place of deep financial uncertainty. Suddenly, your two-income household becomes a single-income household; but your rent or mortgage likely costs the same.
A death benefit can help cover some of that financial loss while you recover from your loved one's death. Even if the spouse gets remarried, they will still receive the death benefit for the promised amount of time, although it will stop if they die.
Children are also often beneficiaries of a death benefit while they are under the age of 18 or otherwise dependent on the deceased’s income. In this case, the death benefit will primarily cover childcare: food, clothing, school expenses, medical expenses like vaccines, and more.
Dependent children stop receiving benefits when they reach the age of 18, or 23 if they are enrolled in school at that time.
Live-In Elderly Relatives or Other Dependent Family Members
Not every family looks the same. Maybe the deceased’s parents live with you and also relied on their income for support. Perhaps they had a sibling with a disability or an elderly grandparent they cared for, even without living with them. If these family members were at all dependent upon the deceased, they could also be considered eligible to receive the death benefit payment.
What Happens If the Deceased Employee Has No Eligible Dependents?
In some cases, an employee dies due to a workplace incident but has no dependents to be considered beneficiaries of the death benefit. This is the case if they are unmarried, childless, and not the caretaker of a dependent family member.
Gain Clarity in the Event of a Fatal Workplace Accident With a Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Beneficiaries must file for benefits within two years of the date of the accident to receive compensation. If they lost their loved one due to an illness or condition that resulted from occupational exposure, they must file within five years of that exposure.
Losing a loved one due to a workplace accident is a devastating event, and it can be stressful to have to fight for financial compensation while dealing with weighty emotional grief. It helps to have workers’ compensation attorneys on your side who know Virginia workers’ compensation laws and will fight for your right to the death benefit payment you deserve.
Commonwealth Law Group has been in practice for nearly a decade, helping bereft family members get the financial compensation they’re entitled to. The founding members of our law firm, Lauren and Seth Carroll, are highly skilled workers’ compensation attorneys, defending injured survivors and deceased employees' family members.
We can help you prepare for a workers’ compensation mediation or challenge any hangups to the receipt of your compensation. Contact Commonwealth Law Group today to learn more or to schedule a free case consultation.
If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.