What Benefits After Fatal Work Accident?

The NC Workers’ Compensation Act does not only cover medical benefits and compensation for a work related permanent injury or illness, but also for accidental death at work. This is not to say that the offered benefits are very generous.

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What benefits can the family of an employee killed at work expect?

Compensation for death is paid for 400 weeks at two-thirds of the employee’s calculated average weekly wage (AWW), and funeral expenses are limited to $3,500.

With these limited benefits, the State of North Carolina does not rank very high in the country in terms of the size of compensation for accidental death at work. In 33 states, death benefits are extended to the surviving spouse for life, or until remarriage, providing a more adequate cushion for the spouse and children who lost not only a loved one, but also his or her earning capacity. In North Carolina, the lifetime provision is only applicable if the surviving spouse is disabled.

The entire process of filing a claim for work related death with the North Carolina Industrial Commission can be a challenge, adding more worries to a family in distress. It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney like Joseph Miller, Esq. who focuses solely on workplace accidents and has successfully defended workers’ rights for several decades. Some of the topics to discuss are:

Who are the beneficiaries? Death benefits are supposed to provide monetary relief to those who suffer most from the worker’s death. This could include the members of the family, of the household, and/or those who are wholly or partially dependent. The Commission will look at factors like cohabitation, marital situation, degree of relation and financial dependency.

What amount is paid, and for how long? Apart from the already mentioned funeral expenses, the death benefits are based on the deceased employee’s AWW. How this weekly wage is calculated has a major impact on the size of the awarded benefits. Does it include non-wage perks and advantages, overtime, bonuses? How were the waiting time and the days lost calculated? The question of how long the benefits will be paid depends on the beneficiary. If the maximum period is 400 weeks, the benefits could cease as soon as the surviving spouse remarries or enters into another intimate relationship, when a child reaches majority, or when a dependent becomes financially independent.

Other issues: There could be other discussions around the cause of death — was it exclusively work related? Or, was it about accrued benefits related to a worker’s injuries prior to his or her death?

If you have lost a loved one in a work related accident, you can get a FREE consultation about your case, without commitment. This will clarify your options at a time when grief and distress can be overwhelming.

Contact Joe Miller Law in Elizabeth City, where attorney Joseph Miller, Esq has been representing injured North Carolina workers for over 20 years. Call us locally 757-455-8889 or toll-free 888-694-1671 today, or contact us online FREE, no commitment discussion of your case.