If you recently lost a loved one in an Atlanta work-related accident, you might be entitled to death benefits under the Georgia workers’ compensation system. In order to receive benefits, which include weekly income benefits, funeral expenses and the deceased’s medical bills, you must be considered an eligible beneficiary under state laws. If you’re unsure of how to proceed with a claim or whether or not you qualify, you’ll want to speak to a local workers’ compensation attorney.
What Are Worker’s Compensation Death Benefits?
Understanding your worker’s comp death benefits is critical to helping your family if your on-the-job injury causes your death.
Your family can receive compensation to help with several types of expenses:
- A portion of your wages as financial support for your family
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Recovering costs for medical expenses before your death
Your family must know how to file for these benefits. The payout can be a significant amount toward offsetting the costs of your medical and funeral expenses.
Who Can Receive These Benefits?
Recipients must be totally or partially dependent on your financial support to qualify for these benefits. This dependence must be current at the time your injury occurs.
Your dependents can be family members other than your spouse or children. If you care for or financially support other family members, they could receive your benefits. Primary beneficiaries can include:
- Your children (including step-children)
- Your spouse
Secondary beneficiaries can receive your benefits if you have no primary dependents. They can include:
- Your parents and or siblings
- Your grandchildren or grandparents
- Your aunts, uncles, nieces, or nephews
For some of these dependents, they’ll need proof of the dependent situation. However, children under the age of 18 years old or who have a disability so that they unable to care for themselves don’t often need proof of dependency.
How Much Can They Receive?
After your family and the adjusters determine the primary or secondary beneficiaries, they’ll work through the amount provided for death benefits. They’ll also determine the payout for funeral expenses.
In Georgia, the amount paid for death benefits is two-thirds of your average weekly wages. Payouts have capped amounts depending on the type of beneficiary.
When there are multiple beneficiaries, the total amount divides between the beneficiaries. In most cases, your dependents receive payouts in installments over time.
Your spouse receives benefits until they die or remarry. Children typically receive benefits until they turn eighteen years old. If they enroll in ongoing education, children can receive benefits until the age of twenty-two.
It’s not easy to make sure your family receives the right amount of money as a result of your death. Working with an Atlanta worker’s compensation lawyer can help when filing the claim and reviewing payout details.
Funeral and Burial Benefits
The cost of a funeral and burial can be expensive. It’s especially challenging to cover these costs when a death in the event of an unexpected death.
Georgia worker’s compensation pays up to $7,500 to help cover the costs of your funeral and burial. If no dependents are available, this payout can go directly to your funeral provider.
How is a Claim Filed?
Just like any accident that leads to a worker’s compensation claim, your dependents must file a claim to receive benefits.
Make sure your family knows how to follow the process:
- They must report your death to your employer. Your employer must then notify the insurance carrier. This starts the benefits process.
- Your dependents must file a claim for death benefits. However, they don’t have to do this right away. It can be difficult to file these types of claims while grieving a loved one. The law allows one year to file the claim.
Your family will work the survivor application and your employer to provide required information to the insurance adjuster.
Your Dependents Deserve Your Benefits
When filing a work-related injury claim for worker’s compensation benefits, an adjuster reviews documentation and determines if your injury meets the criteria to receive benefits.
If you have an injury on the job, make sure you or your worker’s comp attorney filed an injury claim. Having this claim on record helps your dependents receive your death benefits in the event your injury results in your death.
An adjuster will review the details surrounding your death and confirm that you received the correct medical treatment. This information can help them determine if your work-related injury was the direct (and only) cause of your death.
If they determine that the injury led to your death, they’ll begin the payout process.
However, if they determine your death was a result of other causes or not the fault of your injury, the insurance company can delay or withhold benefits to your family.
Your death is a difficult time for your loved ones. While money can’t erase their grief, your family shouldn’t have the burden of your final medical and burial expenses. They also shouldn’t suffer through the loss of your income.
Eligible Death Benefit Beneficiaries
Workers’ compensation death benefits are meant to help those who relied heavily on the deceased worker for financial support. To be considered eligible for death benefits, you must be able to show that you were dependent on the worker for your livelihood.
There are two parties that the law presumes are totally dependent and, therefore, automatically labels as eligible beneficiaries:
- Spouse – legally married spouses are beneficiaries. However, if the couple was living separately for 90 days or more prior to the accident, the death benefits claim might be denied because it’s presumed the surviving spouse wasn’t dependent. Also, spouses of common-law marriages might not be eligible.
- Children – Children under age 18 are dependents, and this includes any natural or stepchildren, legally adopted children, posthumous children and acknowledged children born out of wedlock. Other children who qualify include those older than 18 but incapable of earning a living due to a physical or mental disability and children younger than 22 who are enrolled full-time in college.
In addition to spouses and children, any other party that can prove they were dependent upon the deceased for support may be eligible for benefits. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Procedural Manual provides, “In all other cases whether a person is wholly or partially dependent must be shown by facts establishing actual support in existence at the time of the injury or disease, which caused death, and for a period at least three months prior to the accident.” An example would be elderly parents or a mentally incapacitated sibling.
Duration of Death Benefits
For surviving spouses, death benefits will cease when the spouse remarries or openly cohabitates with a partner. For children, benefits will cease when they turn 18 (or 22 if they are enrolled in school). If a child beneficiary gets married before he or she turns 22, it does not affect his or her benefits.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Death Benefits
If you recently lost a loved one due to a work-related injury in Georgia, you are welcome to contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We help grieving families get the support they need when a work accident claimed their loved one’s life. Call our workers’ compensation team today at 678-562-5595 to see how we may be of service to you.