A fatal work-related injury can either occur on the job itself or as a result of the job. Some people may have been sickened due to something they were exposed to at work and die from their illness. These deaths are treated the same as those that result from physical accidents.
If your loved one died due to a work-related injury, your family might be entitled to certain benefits under Georgia law. Successfully filing for these benefits is crucial for your family.
Although money cannot replace your loved one, and the benefits will not fully compensate for your family member’s earnings, you will need these payments. The Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys at Moebes Law can help your family navigate the workers’ compensation claims process.
What Impacts the Value of the Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit?
Your family will need this money because you have lost the income that your family member provided. You should not take any chances that may jeopardize your ability to receive this money.
The amount of benefits depends on a number of factors, including:
- The number of dependents at the time of death
- Whether the surviving spouse was the sole dependent
- The age of surviving children at the time of death
- The amount of money that the deceased person made before they died
- Whether any surviving children have disabilities
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Payments for the Spouse Under Georgia Law
In a case where there is a surviving spouse but no dependents, the spouse can receive weekly payments for a total of 400 weeks (nearly eight years). The amount of the benefits will be two-thirds of the deceased person’s weekly earnings, subject to a cap of $725.
Georgia law limits the total amount of payments to a spouse to $290,000. The spouse can receive payments so long as they have not remarried or cohabitated with someone else. If the spouse receives workers’ compensation death benefits, they need to be careful because their benefits can be at risk.
The benefits cap can be raised based on the temporary total disability rate. Since the economy is in the middle of an inflationary period, the cap is expected to continue increasing in the near future. For example, the weekly cap was recently raised, as benefits were previously capped at $675 per week.
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits for Children and Dependents
Children will receive their own benefits until they reach 18 years of age. These benefits can continue until the age of 22 if they are enrolled in an educational institution. If the child is disabled, they can continue receiving benefits for the rest of their life.
Under Georgia law, the spouse and children are presumed to be dependent on the deceased person. Other people might receive benefits if they were financially dependent on the deceased employee, including:
If someone was not wholly dependent on the deceased person, they could still receive benefits. Partial dependents will receive some of the death benefits.
GA Code § 34-9-265 establishes death benefit will be:
“in the same proportion to the compensation for persons wholly dependent as the average amount contributed weekly by the deceased to the partial dependents bears to the deceased employee’s average weekly wages.”
Workers’ Compensation Payments for Funeral and Burial Costs
In addition to payments for lost wages, workers’ compensation will also cover the medical care the person received before they died. Further, the death benefit also includes reasonable funeral and burial costs up to a cap of $7,500. Given the recent inflationary surge, workers’ compensation may not cover all the funeral costs.
An Attorney Can Review the Case for Potential Lawsuit Grounds
Before you file a claim for death benefits, your attorney will review your case to determine whether you may have a potential personal injury lawsuit against a third party. If you file a lawsuit, you can maximize your financial compensation because you can get full lost wages and non-economic damages.
However, you generally cannot sue an employer unless a very limited exception applies. Someone else will need to be responsible for what happened to your loved one.
You Can Appeal If the Claim Is Denied
If your family files a workers’ compensation claim, you should learn soon after whether the insurance company will pay the benefits you need. The main reason why an insurance company may deny a claim is that they believe the death did not result from a work-related injury.
Alternatively, the insurance company may believe that the death was from an injury suffered at another job, and another employer’s insurance company should be responsible for paying the claim. If your death benefits claim has been denied, our attorney can help you appeal the decision. The self-interested insurance company does not get the final say about whether your family receives the money they need after a breadwinner dies from a work-related injury.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
The workers’ compensation process can be complex, and it may be difficult for your family to make a claim in a timely fashion when you are dealing with so many other things. Our attorneys at Moebes Law are standing by and ready to help you when you reach out to us. Your first step is to contact us for a free consultation. You can send us a message online or call us today at 404-941-7666.
Work-Related Fatality FAQs
How long does my family have to file a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits?
You have one year from the date of the employee’s death to file the claim for benefits.
Will my family receive death benefits if my loved one dies on their way to work?
No, because it is not a work-related injury. However, you can file a lawsuit against the driver responsible for the car accident.
Can my family receive money for the loved one’s pain and suffering?
No. Workers’ compensation claims only pay economic damages and do not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.