My Loved One Died on the Job. What Am I Entitled To?
If your loved one passed away from a work-related injury, you may be entitled to work-related death benefits in Georgia.
Unfortunately, people die on the job every day in the United States.
According to CNBC, “In 2020, 4,764 U.S. workers died while on the job – an average of 13 workers dying per day and the equivalent of one worker dying every 111 minutes.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adds, “The fatal work injury rate was 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from 3.5 per 100,000 FTE in 2019.”
If your spouse or parent died on the job, we know they are more than a statistic. They were someone you loved, and life will not be the same without them.
On top of the emptiness you feel, you now have to worry about the financial burden they’ve left behind (whether it is income loss or hospital bills).
Work-related death benefits in Georgia may help lessen some of the stress.
Read on to see if you meet the requirements to receive work-related death benefits in Georgia.
The Requirements for Work-Related Death Benefits in Georgia
To receive work-related death benefits in Georgia, certain requirements must first be met.
First, the deceased’s employer must have workers’ compensation insurance.
NOTE – Under Georgia workers’ comp law, any business with three or more employees, including regular part-time workers, must have workers’ compensation insurance.
Next, the deceased employee must have sustained the injury that resulted in his or her death while on the clock.
Like traditional workers’ compensation, the death must be considered work-related. This cannot happen if the injury contributing to the death happened outside work hours.
For example, if the employee died from a fall on a construction site while on the clock, this would be deemed a work-related death. However, if an employee dies in a car accident on the way home, it will not be considered a work-related death.
Next, to receive work-related death benefits in Georgia, there must be jurisdiction in Georgia, such as the workplace location or the employee’s Georgia residence status.
Even if the deceased meets all these criteria, you may not receive work-related death benefits if the deceased is thought to have died because of willful misconduct (intoxication, etc.).
The Workers’ Compensation Statutes in Georgia
It’s important to understand that workers’ compensation laws are different from one state to the next. This means that work-related death benefits in California may be different from those in Georgia.
Here are the Georgia statutes regarding compensation for death resulting from injury and other causes; penalty for death from injury proximately caused by an intentional act of employer (O.C.G.A. §34-9-265).
If death results instantly from an accident arising out of and in the course of employment or if during the period of disability caused by an accident death results proximately therefrom, the compensation under this chapter shall be as follows:
(1) The employer shall, in addition to any other compensation, pay the reasonable expenses of the employee’s burial not to exceed $7,500.00. If the employee leaves no dependents, this shall be the only compensation;
(2) The employer shall pay the dependents of the deceased employee, which dependents are wholly dependent on his or her earnings for support at the time of the injury, a weekly compensation equal to the compensation which is provided for in Code Section 34-9-261 for total incapacity;
(3) If the employee leaves dependents only partially dependent on his or her earnings for their support at the time of the injury, the weekly compensation for these dependents shall 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 at the time of the injury; and
(4) When weekly payments have been made to an injured employee before his or her death, compensation to dependents shall begin on the date of the last of such payments; but the number of weekly payments made to the injured employee under Code Section 34-9-261, 34-9-262, or 34-9-263 shall be subtracted from the maximum 400 week period of dependency of a spouse provided by Code Section 34-9-13; and in no case shall payments be made to dependents except during dependency.
(c) The compensation provided for in this Code section shall be payable only to dependents and only during dependency.
(d) The total compensation payable under this Code section to a surviving spouse as a sole dependent at the time of death and where there is no other dependent for one year or less after the death of the employee shall in no case exceed $270,000.00.
(e) If it shall be determined that the death of an employee was the direct result of an injury proximately caused by the intentional act of the employer with specific intent to cause such injury, then there shall be added to the weekly income benefits paid to the dependents, if any, of the deceased employee a penalty of 20 percent; provided, however, such penalty in no case shall exceed $20,000.00. For the purpose of this subsection, an employer shall be deemed to have intended an injury only if the employer had actual knowledge that the intended act was certain to cause such injury and knowingly disregarded this certainty of injury. Nothing in this subsection shall limit the effect of Code Section 34-9-11.
The Work-Related Death Benefits in Georgia You Are Entitled To
If you meet the criteria, you may be entitled to the following work-related death benefits in Georgia:
- Coverage of hospital bills from the work-related injury (i.e., surgery for the injury that occurred before the employee succumbed and passed away).
- Funeral expenses for the employee’s burial up to $7,500.
- The same income benefits the deceased employee would have received in life (two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage).
What You Are Entitled to Depends on Your Dependency Status
We’ve talked about meeting certain criteria to qualify for work-related death benefits in Georgia. So far, we’ve covered the criteria for it to be considered a death on the job.
However, in addition to proving the death resulted from an injury sustained while on the clock, you need to prove you are a dependent.
Typically, the deceased employee’s surviving spouse and children receive workers’ compensation death benefits (dependency benefits).
These are people who depended on the deceased for living expenses.
The dependents are classified as primary or secondary dependents.
Primary beneficiaries are the victim’s legal spouse and minor children. The spouse and victim must have been legally married. If the victim had a dependent child, that child is entitled to benefits until eighteen. However, benefits can be extended to age twenty-two if the “child” remains enrolled in school.
If the victim did not have a legal spouse or dependent children, any other party who can prove they were dependent on the victim for at least three months before the death can recover death benefits as a secondary beneficiary.
How Long You Are Entitled to Work-Related Death Benefits in Georgia
If you fit the criteria, you will receive the death benefits in installments.
In Georgia, the surviving spouse can receive death benefits up to age 65 or 400 weeks, whichever is greater.
However, these work-related death benefits can be terminated before this time is reached.
For example, if the surviving spouse remarries, the death benefits end. Even if the spouse does not remarry but has a meretricious relationship (looks like marriage but without a marriage certificate), these death benefits may cease.
Further, if the surviving spouse dies, the death benefits will end and will not be passed on to another family member.
Hire A Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Fight for Your Rights
It’s hard enough dealing with the loss of someone you love without having to fight for help covering the loss of income or medical bills.
A workers’ compensation attorney will fight for you to receive the work-related death benefits you are entitled to in the state of Georgia.
Don’t make life harder than it already is. Allow an attorney to guide you through the death benefits process.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.
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