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How Are Dependency Benefits Handled Following a Workplace Death

By November 1, 2021November 8th, 2021No Comments

Losing a loved one is hard enough without the added pain of knowing it is a work-related injury. While nearly all workers have some level of protection under workers’ compensation, it may be difficult to discern what qualifies for dependency benefits or damages. Grieving families of workers killed on the job due to tragic accidents or occupational illnesses deserve just compensation. 

If you’re unsure where to begin, the team at Mottaz & Sisk is here to help. Our compassionate and skilled workers’ compensation attorneys can help you understand the complexities of attaining dependency death benefits to ensure you are financially covered for your unfortunate loss.

From fatal occupational diseases to shocking work accidents, many different situations can lead to death in the workplace. Some examples of common work-related injuries include:

  • Machinery mishaps
  • Electrocution
  • Chemical exposures
  • Truck and auto accidents
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Construction incidents

Unfortunately, work accidents occur every day, yet that doesn’t lessen the pain and financial burden of losing a family member to a workplace accident or long-term occupational disease. Click here to learn more about essential steps to take immediately following a loved one’s passing so that you don’t experience further loss at the hand of your deceased family member’s employer.

Qualifications for Receiving Death Benefits

The deceased individual’s death must be work-related or the result of an occupational disease to receive dependent death benefits under workers’ compensation. This also includes jobs performed outside of the workplace but while performing job-related duties. 

Although a fatal incident happened on the job, it may not necessarily result in death benefits. Every state has different definitions of what qualifies as a work-related injury. However, the consensus is that the incident must have occurred in the course or within the scope of employment. 

For example, suppose your loved one died from a work-related injury that worsened a pre-existing health condition previously unrelated to their job. You may still qualify for death benefits in that case. Even in high-risk jobs like construction, many accidents are preventable with safety measures in place. If you’re concerned your loved one’s former employer may disregard their death due to the “nature of the job,” it’s crucial to seek out help from a workers’ compensation attorney.

Who Is Considered a Dependent?

Dependents are individuals related to the deceased through marriage, blood, or were financially reliant on their employment. In most states, children under the age of 18 are viewed as dependents. This varies with student enrollment and disability status. The deceased’s spouse and children may need to prove they were dependent on the deceased worker to receive essential benefits or if they even qualify based on current household earnings. 
Nevertheless, there are essential wrongful death benefits that the employer must provide for all work-related deaths. Since it can be somewhat confusing to discern whether or not you are eligible for death benefits, it’s best to consult with an experienced work injury attorney.

Dependents’ Death Benefits

The State of Minnesota takes work-related deaths very seriously and strives to provide protections for surviving family members through employer owed death benefits. Look at some of the ways you may receive compensation following your loved one’s untimely demise below:

Burial Fee 

Funeral costs can add up quickly, especially for the unprepared. While the maximum amount awarded to surviving members to cover these expenses varies from state to state, Minnesotans can usually request up to $15,000. Make sure to double-check with your attorney to verify.

The employer’s insurance should pay this fee to the surviving spouse and other dependents. If there aren’t eligible candidates, the burial fee will be paid to the individual responsible for funeral costs. 

Medical Coverage

If your loved one sought medical treatment for either a fatal work incident or occupational disease prior to their death, you could request that these bills be covered by their former employer. Workers’ compensation should cover these medical expenses.

Lost Wages

Cash payments of up to 60 percent of the deceased workers’ average daily wage are also available to surviving family members who fit specific criteria. These protections are set to ensure that surviving family members can meet all financial obligations despite the loss of income. If there are no surviving dependents, then the deceased’s estate will be paid $60,000.

The employer is liable for weekly cash payments set forth by the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) only if there is a surviving spouse or dependents who meet the following criteria:

  • Dependents only receive cash benefits until they are 18 or 25 and enrolled full-time as a student. Benefits will also continue if a child is disabled.
  • Spouses can continue to collect weekly payments until they die.
  • Financially-dependent parents may acquire benefits for up to 10 years.

Learn more about qualifying dependent factors here.

Filing for a Death Benefits Claim

Every state has different statutes of limitations that limit how long dependents have to file a workers’ compensation claim following a work-related death of their loved one. In Minnesota, you have up to six years from when you first became aware of the employment-related injury to file a death claim.

Under Minnesota law, dependents may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, unpaid permanent partial disability (PPD), and other dependency benefits. 

Losing a loved one leaves lingering emotional and psychological damage following their tragic and untimely death. You deserve to seek compensation for your pain and suffering, and it’s best to work with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney to discuss your rights.

Don’t Despair: Get Dependency Benefits Following a Loved One’s Workplace Death

During this already stressful and emotionally charged time, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you’ll be financially stable. While we understand how confusing this process may be, we are here to help examine your case to determine if you’re eligible to sue for dependency benefits following a workplace death of a loved one. 

At Mottaz & Sisk, our hard-working wrongful death and workers’ compensation attorneys have a wealth of experience fighting for just compensation in dependency benefit cases. If your family is stricken with grief following the tragic work-related death of your loved one, our team will fight to ensure you don’t need to also bear the financial impact of their loss during this trying time. We know that every wrongful death case is unique, which is why we assist our clients every step of the way, ensuring you have a strong advocate for your family without the added stress.

Contact our team today to start the fight for extensive dependency benefits following a workplace death of a loved one.

Jerry Sisk

Jerry Sisk

Jerry is a Minnesota workers' compensation attorney and work injury lawyer. He a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Minnesota Association of Justice, and Anoka County Bar Association. He has 10/10 on Avvo, 5 Stars on Google, AV Rated through Martindale-Hubbell and National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Currently, he is Co-Chair of the Work Comp Section of the Minnesota Association of Justice.