According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 5,000 workers are killed on the job each year, on average.
Depending on the circumstances involved, surviving family members may be entitled to compensation when a fatal accident occurs. The main purpose for filing a work death claim is to receive death benefits to compensate for a loss of financial support from the deceased employee. Oftentimes, claims can be filed by:
- Close relatives who lived with the individual or depended on their financial support
Who is Eligible for Death Benefits?
A worker death claim is usually filed by immediate family members with assistance from an attorney. Dependents 18 years of age and under are almost always included when such claims are filed. In some instances, children 18 to 25 may be included if they are going to school or completing a vocational program. Regardless of income availability, spouses are usually assumed to be dependents. With other family members, specific circumstances may be taken into consideration to determine who can be part of a claim.
Reasons for a Claim
Slips and falls, contact with an object or piece of equipment, getting caught in or in-between machinery, exposure to hazardous materials that may result in conditions such as chemical phenomena that could contribute to fatal health problems, and fires and explosions are among the common causes of work-related fatalities. It’s often injuries of this nature that result in worker death claims being filed. But death benefits aren’t limited to random workplace accidents.
Death benefits may be awarded because certain work-related conditions contributed to an illness that eventually led to death. For instance, long-term exposure to asbestos may have contributed to respiratory illnesses and cancer. Even if the death occurs years later, it may be possible to trace the source of exposure back to certain work environments.
Medical conditions unrelated to work may also be a valid reason to file a worker death claim. For example, a workplace accident that may not have otherwise been fatal may have aggravated an existing heart condition an employer was aware of. It may be possible to make an argument that an employer should have ensured the worker had access to appropriate assistance.
Potential Payment Amounts
Death benefits are paid in regular installments. The amount of disbursements is based on a percentage of what a worker was earning before their death. In certain situations, a lawyer may be able to negotiate a single lump sum payment. As for how long payments last, spouses are often able to receive payments until their own death or remarriage. Dependent children often receive disbursements until they turn 18, or graduate from college or complete vocational training. In some cases, a dependent child with a chronic condition like muscular dystrophy may be able to continue receiving benefits for their care.
Not all workplace accidents are entirely preventable or the fault of any particular party. However, there are times when negligence may have needlessly put an employee in harm’s way or led to certain oversights with safety precautions. Regardless of what contributed to your loved one’s death, a workers’ compensation attorney can assess your situation and discuss the possibility of filing a claim.