How Do Dependency Benefits Work Following A Workplace Death?

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Dozens of workers in Minnesota die on the job each year. While most people are aware of the benefits that a worker can receive if they become injured at the workplace, many dependents do not realize that there are also benefits available through the state’s workers’ compensation program. If your spouse, parent, or child died as a result of a workplace injury, an experienced Minneapolis wrongful death lawyer can assist you in obtaining the benefits that you and your family need to move forward from your loss.

Breaking Down Minnesota’s Dependency Benefits

The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Division of the Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for administering the state’s workers’ compensation program. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance policy that most employers in the state are required to obtain on behalf of their employees which provides wage replacement, medical treatment, and other benefits to injured workers, as well as death/dependency benefits to eligible family members of workers who die on the job or as a result of a work-related illness or injury.

The benefits that are available to dependents like a spouse, minor children, or parents include:

  • Up to $15,000 for expenses related to the funeral and burial or cremation of the deceased worker.
  • From 50-66 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the injury that resulted in their death. The percentage is determined on the number of dependents in the household.
  • A minimum benefit of $60,000 to be paid in monthly payments based on the worker’s weekly wage and the number of dependents or on a lump sum. If there are no survivors to claim the benefits, a minimum lump sum of $60,000 must be paid to the deceased worker’s estate.

How Long Do Dependency Benefits Last?

Like the determination of the amount of dependency payments, the duration in which one receives dependency benefits through Minnesota’s workers’ compensation program depends on the dependents who are being provided with these benefits. For example:

  • A spouse with no dependent children at home can receive up to 50 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage for ten years.
  • If the spouse remarries, they can continue receiving benefits until the ten-year period ends.
  • If a spouse has dependent children at home, they can receive a higher percentage of the deceased’s average weekly earnings until the children reach the age of majority and are no longer dependents. At that point, the spouse can continue receiving reduced payments for ten years.
  • If the deceased worker partially supported relatives in life, those relatives are eligible to receive dependency benefits in proportion to the amount of support the deceased provided to them for up to ten years.

Can the Family of the Deceased Worker Seek Compensation Through a Lawsuit?

Because most employers provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees that includes a dependency benefit, the deceased worker’s family generally cannot seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there are some circumstances in which family members can file a wrongful death claim in Minnesota after a workplace death, including:

  • The death was the result of a third party (someone who was not the deceased worker’s employer or co-worker). One area where this commonly arises is in the circumstance of transportation-related deaths involving workers during the scope of their normal employment, such as those working as delivery drivers who are killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by other drivers.
  • The employer was required by law to provide a workers’ compensation policy for employees and failed to do so. In this case, the worker’s family members can seek compensation from the employer through the wrongful death claims process.

What Is the Wrongful Death Claims Process in Minneapolis?

A wrongful death claim is a claim for compensation made by the family members of the deceased to the employer’s insurer. If the insurer fails to pay the claim or to make a fair settlement offer to resolve it, the claim can be filed within three years after the date of the worker’s death in civil court as a wrongful death lawsuit. In order for a Minneapolis wrongful death lawyer to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit, the claimant must request that the court appoint a trustee to file the claim and oversee the distribution of damages (compensation).

The type of compensation that is available in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Expenses related to medical treatment for the deceased’s final injury
  • Loss of services, care, guidance, comfort, and protection provided by the deceased
  • Loss of income, benefits, and wages that the deceased provided to their family

How a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Minneapolis Can Help You

Because the experienced Minneapolis wrongful death lawyers at Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law assist clients in both obtaining workers’ compensation benefits as well as the wrongful death claims process, we are uniquely positioned to explore your legal options with you and determine the appropriate avenue for obtaining the benefits or compensation you deserve.

  • File your claim for dependency benefits.
  • Appeal adverse decisions by the workers’ compensation insurer.
  • Ensure that you have the documentation and other evidence needed to prove your claim.
  • Determining if there is third-party involvement that would allow you to seek compensation through the wrongful death claims process.
  • Establishing a value to your wrongful death claim and managing communication — including settlement negotiations — with the at-fault party’s insurer.
  • Assisting you in the collection of dependency benefits or a wrongful death settlement or award.
  • A contingent-fee billing method that allows you to withhold payment for our services until you have obtained dependency benefits, or a wrongful death settlement or award.

For more information about the dependency benefits that you are eligible to receive and the services, we can provide to assist you in obtaining those benefits, contact a Minneapolis wrongful death lawyer at Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law for a free case evaluation.