Workers' Compensation Death Benefits
There is nothing more devasting than losing a loved one as a result of a work injury. When a worker dies as the result of an on-the-job accident or occupational disease, grieving family members can file a workers’ compensation claim on their loved one’s behalf. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we help families obtain the benefits they need and deserve after suffering a tragic loss. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience handling workers’ compensation claims across all industries and have a successful track record when it comes to connecting families with workers’ compensation death benefits.Common Causes of Fatal Workplace Accidents
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an average of 13 workers died per day in 2020. This amounts to a total of more than 4,764 American workers per year losing their lives due to on-the-job accidents and occupational diseases. Car accidents were the leading cause of fatal workplace accidents, claiming more than 1,750 lives, or a third of all work-related deaths. Exposure to harmful substances was the cause of over 670 worker deaths, and workplace violence claimed over 700 workers’ lives.
While every industry presents its share of risks that workers must confront, some are much more dangerous than others. According to recent BLS data, the following industries and occupations are among the most dangerous:
- Construction: 1,008 workplace fatalities
- Transportation and Warehousing: 805 workplace fatalities
- Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: 413 workplace fatalities
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting: 511 workplace fatalities
- Government Employment: 415 workplace fatalities
- Specialty Trade Contractors: 576 workplace fatalities
Families who lost a loved one in a workplace accident can obtain workers’ compensation death benefits to help them overcome some of the costs associated with their loss. Generally, North Carolina law provides that families can collect up to $10,000 in burial benefits as well as weekly death benefits. Weekly death benefits are calculated based on the deceased workers’ average weekly wage. Typically, these benefits equal two-thirds of the deceased worker’s weekly pay but are subject to a statutory cap. Thus, family members of high-income earners may receive significantly less than two-thirds of their weekly pay.
Generally, workers’ compensation death benefits are payable for a period of 500 weeks. However, in certain situations, these payments may be extended. For example, minors who lose a parent are eligible for benefits until they turn 18, regardless of whether that results in more than 500 weeks of benefits.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation clarifies which family members can recover benefits, depending on their relationship to the deceased worker. Persons wholly dependent for support upon the deceased worker at the time of the accident shall be entitled to receive the entire amount of death benefits. If there are no wholly-dependent family members, then any person partially dependent for support upon the earnings of the deceased employee can receive death benefits.
If a deceased worker left no whole nor partial dependents, then the deceased worker's next of kin is entitled to receive death benefits. If the person or all persons who were partially dependent on the deceased worker also fall under the classification of next of kin, then they may be entitled to receive death benefits under the different payment structure set forth for next of kin.Have You Lost a Loved One in a North Carolina Workplace Accident?
If you recently suffered the tragic loss of a loved one in a workplace accident, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, for immediate assistance. At our Charlotte law offices, we proudly help grieving families obtain the benefits they need to continue on with their lives. We recognize the difficulties you and your family are going through and do everything possible to make the process as easy on you as possible. Our diligent workers’ compensation lawyers take a comprehensive approach to every case we handle, ensuring that your application is submitted correctly the first time. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation* with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747.