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Death on the Job: Family Rights

Death on the Job Family Rights
Death on the Job Family Rights

In 2021, 315 Florida workers died from an on-the-job accident. Unfortunately, the state has countless dangerous industries, all presenting serious risks and hazards to those working there.

If your family member dies while working, do you have the right to receive benefits? Are there exclusions and limits to the benefits you are entitled to?

At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., our experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys can answer all your questions. You can also find more information about death benefits for families of workers killed in Florida here.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Insurance in West Palm Beach

In Florida, it is required that most employers provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees. The actual coverage requirements are based on factors like the industry, organization, and number of workers.

Workers’ compensation insurance aims to provide medical and wage benefits for workers who sustain work-caused injuries or illnesses. Accidents that occur at work can cause serious injuries and fatalities.

A common question asked is – does workers’ compensation cover the death of a worker? The answer to this is yes. If an accident at work causes a worker’s death, workers’ compensation benefits can help the surviving family members overcome the financial hardship this causes.

Benefits Offered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance

The first step in recovering workers’ compensation is to prove the injury occurred in the scope and course of employment and that medical treatment was required.

The employer will then choose an authorized physician to evaluate and treat the injury. The physician will testify that the individual experienced the injury at work, required medical treatment, and the accident contributed to treatment.

After this is established, workers’ compensation will provide an injured worker with these benefits:

  • Medical care costs, including treatment, supplies, equipment, and appointment transportation.
  • Lost wages.
  • Rehabilitation includes support, education, and training if a worker moves into a different career or occupation.

If the worker dies because of a workplace accident, workers’ compensation insurance will provide death benefits to their family.

Recovering Death Benefits After a Workplace-Caused Fatality

Like the process for recovering benefits related to on-the-job illnesses and injuries, workers’ compensation benefits offer compensation if someone dies while at work. To receive death benefits, it is necessary for the worker to die within 12 months of the accident and injury.

Also, work-related accidents that result in ongoing disabilities that cause a worker’s death may result in surviving family members qualifying for workers’ comp death benefits. This is possible if the worker died within five years of the date of the accident.

Florida Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Statute of Limitations

If your family member dies from an on-the-job accident, there is a set time period to file a claim for death benefits. In Florida, you have just two years to file a claim (this is the statute of limitations).

Eligibility for Workers’ Comp Death Benefits

Death benefits are available to qualified family members. The relationship can be through marriage or blood. While this is true, the person who files for the benefits must prove they depended on the individual to receive the benefits.

The death benefits paid to a deceased worker’s dependents are based on the relationship and include the following:

  • Spouse. A deceased worker’s spouse in Florida can receive up to 50% of their average weekly salary.
  • Children. For situations where the individual had a spouse and children, their spouse receives up to 50% of their average weekly age and another 16 2/3% for their children.
  • Parents. For workers with no spouse or children, death benefits go to their surviving parents, who can seek 25% of the worker’s average weekly wage.

If a dependent relationship is not established or proven, it is unlikely that death benefits will be awarded.

However, other benefits may be awarded. For example, the worker’s employer (or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier) must pay actual funeral costs up to $7,500. Workers’ comp benefits must also pay school expenses for the surviving spouse. There is a cap on death benefits paid, which is $150,000.

Our Legal Team Can Help You Acquire the Death Benefits You Are Entitled To

At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., our West Palm workers’ compensation lawyers take pride in helping injured workers and their families. You can come to us with your claim and feel confident that we will help you acquire the death benefits you are entitled to.

While no amount of money can replace or compensate for the loss of your loved one, these benefits can help ease the financial hardship caused by your loss. Call our office today to schedule a consultation.

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