Workplace accidents that result in an employee’s death leave the surviving families in a very difficult position. While coping with loss and the emotional trauma of the event, these families also have to start thinking about how they will make up for the loss of income. Many people in these situations are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t wait to figure out how they will adjust to their new circumstances.
Georgia has workers’ compensation laws in place to help families like yours through these difficult situations. Surviving family members of mortally wounded employees are entitled to what are called “death benefits”. Death benefits is not exactly the most sensitive name for this claim, but what it can do for your family is tremendous.
At the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, our workers’ compensation attorney can help you obtain the death benefits your family needs. Call us at (770) 629-9321.
Who is Entitled to Death Benefits?
In Georgia, only a deceased employee’s next of kin can claim their workers’ compensation death benefits. Family members are the primary beneficiaries of the compensation, meaning that they have first rights to the benefits as they were dependent on the deceased’s income.
Primary beneficiaries in workers’ comp wrongful death include:
- Husbands or wives
- Children under the age of 18
- Children under 22 who are enrolled in school full time
- Children of any age who are physically or mentally handicapped and unable to work
If there are no primary beneficiaries, then secondary beneficiaries can claim the benefits. Secondary benefits are other people who were dependent on the deceased. Parents and siblings can sometimes qualify as secondary beneficiaries.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
You have one year to file a workers’ compensation death benefits claim, but you should notify the deceased’s employer about their death as soon as possible. Once they receive the notice, they must inform their workers’ comp insurance provider. At this point, the process should begin and you should start speaking with an attorney to make sure you receive all the benefits your family needs.
If you are not contacted by the insurance company, then it could mean the deceased’s employer did not inform the insurance company. If this is the case then you need to contact an attorney right away.
How Much Compensation Will My Family Receive?
Death benefits in Georgia provide two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly wages to the beneficiaries, with the cap being $575 per week. If the deceased earned less than $50 per week then the full amount of wages will be paid.
This weekly payment is intended to serve all beneficiaries. Meaning that surviving family will receive, at most, $575 total, not $575 per person. The primary beneficiaries will receive the whole amount and distribute it as they see fit. It is usually the surviving spouse who is entrusted with the money.
Workers’ compensation is also responsible for paying up to $7,500 of funeral expenses, regardless of whether or not there are beneficiaries or not.
How Long Will My Family Receive Benefits?
A surviving spouse will continue receiving benefits until they turn 65 or receive 400 weeks of benefits, whichever results in more benefits. Benefits cannot exceed $230,000, and if a surviving spouse remarries or starts living with someone else then the benefits end. Children will stop receiving benefits when they reach their age limit (18 or 22, depending on school enrollment).
If you have not received death benefits after losing a loved one in a work-related accident, contact our workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta today at (770) 629-9321.