Death Benefits Available under Florida’s Worker Compensation Law

Florida had 215 on-the-job deaths in 2010, down from 245 in 2009, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these:

  • 88 deaths were transportation-related
  • 46 were from assaults and violent acts
  • 32 were the result of falls
  • 28 from exposures to harmful substances
  • 19 were equipment-related

Injuries suffered by workers on-the-job have a diverse range of severity. Some injured workers can return to work but others are not. Unfortunately, there are still far too many work-related accidents that result in death. The families of these workers are left to mourn the loss of a loved one and suffer emotional scars. They also face the reality that in many cases the death of the primary breadwinner significant reduces the family’s income.

Florida’s Workers Compensation Law provides death benefits to the surviving spouse and/or dependents of workers who died in an accident while at work. Under the law, if a work-related death occurs within one year of the date of accident or five years of continuous disability, the following benefits may be due and payable up to a maximum total of $150,000:

  • Funeral expenses up to $7,500 (The employer is required to pay the funeral expenses within 14 days of receiving the bill)
  • Compensation to dependents, as defined by law
  • Educational benefits to the surviving spouse

Florida law requires employers to pay the deceased worker’s dependents a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wages. Dependents are often the spouse, children, parents, siblings and grandchildren left behind. The percentage of death benefits paid depends on the particular family relationship of the dependent, whether a spouse, child, parent or sibling. The workers compensation laws determining the amount of the benefits and the percentage of recovery to each recipient depend on the specific situation. The laws in this area are quite complex. As attorneys, we strive to take care of the family so that they can take care of themselves.

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