Who Can Receive Death Benefits from a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Did you recently lose a loved one from work-related injuries? Whether your relative passed away immediately or months after a workplace accident, we recommend you talk with a Roanoke workers’ compensation lawyer. You should know your rights, including what are workers’ compensation death benefits, who can receive death benefits, and how to file a workers’ comp claim.
Attorney Cerid Lugar is a seasoned workers’ comp attorney ready to answer your questions and help you pursue the compensation you need. Call (540) 384-0348 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with Lugar Injury Law.
Who Is Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?
Death benefits are paid to:
- Dependent children under 18 years old,
- Dependent children between 18 and 23 years old enrolled in an accredited educational institution, and
- Other dependents, depending on the circumstances.
Don?t be afraid to reach out with questions regarding who is and isn?t a dependent under Virginia?s workers’ compensation laws.
Who Is a Dependent?
Under Virginia Code ?65.2-512, there are total (or wholly) dependents and partial dependents. People who are total dependents take priority over partial dependents.
Virginia Code ?65.2-515 presumes certain people are wholly dependent:
- A wife or husband living with their spouse at the time of the accident,
- A child under 18 years old,
- A child over 18 years old who is physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to earn a living,
- A child under 23 years old who is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution, and
- A parent who is destitute (provided there are no other total dependents).
Section ?65.2-516 addresses other dependent people. Whether or not someone was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased worker at the time of their death is decided on a case-by-case basis. For someone to be dependent, their dependency had to have existed for three months or more before the accident.
When Someone Stops Being a Dependent
A surviving spouse stops being a dependent when they remarry or pass away, according to ?65.2-517. The amount the spouse received is divided among the surviving dependent children or other dependents.
A child or any other minor dependent stops being a dependent when they reach 18 years old unless they are disabled and unable to earn a living or enrolled as a full-time student.
Death Benefits Under Virginia Workers’ Comp
Dependents are entitled to death benefits of:
- Up to $10,000 for burial expenses,
- Up to $1,000 for reasonable transportation expenses,
- Compensation (wage replacement) to dependents defined by Virginia Code ?65.2-512.
Compensation for Dependents
Wage benefits are divided equally among total dependents. For example, if your husband were killed in a workplace accident, leaving behind you and two minor children, the death benefits would be divided in thirds between the three of you. The law requires your husband?s employer to make weekly payments of 66 2/3 percent of your husband?s average weekly wages, subject to minimum and maximum amounts under Virginia law.
If a deceased worker leaves behind no total dependents, then wage benefits are paid to partial dependents. But instead of dividing the benefits equally among them, the benefits are apportioned based on each person?s level dependency on the decedent.
Duration of Death Benefits
Payments to total dependents last 500 weeks from the date of the injury. Wages paid to a destitute parent or another individual determined to be dependent on the deceased worker, in fact, payments last only 400 weeks. Payments to partial dependents also only last 400 weeks.
Negotiating Lump Sum Death Benefits Payment
Employers have to pay weekly wage benefits for up to 400 or 500 weeks. But sometimes, waiting for payment isn?t in your family?s best interests. Virginia law says you can negotiate a full or partial lump sum payment with the employer, as long as the Virginia?s Workers’ Compensation Commission approves the final agreement. You should talk to a lawyer about whether a workers’ compensation settlement would help you and your family.
Talk with a Roanoke Workers’ Comp Lawyer About Death Benefits Today
Losing a spouse or parent in a workplace accident is traumatic. In addition to the emotional ramifications of your loss, you have to consider the practical and financial effects. How can you keep a roof over your head without their income? If your loved one was an employee covered by workers’ compensation in Virginia, you don?t have to.
Talk with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Roanoke today about filing a claim for death benefits. You can reach Lugar Injury Law through our online form or call (540) 384-0348 to schedule your free initial consultation.