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Fatal Work Accidents

When someone dies on the job, workers’ compensation provides income benefits to surviving family members who were dependent upon their deceased loved one for their livelihood.

As with all workers’ compensation claims, specific requirements and deadlines must be met to receive survivor benefits in a work-related fatality case.

The sooner you seek help from an attorney who is qualified and knowledgeable enough to handle these cases, the sooner you can begin the process of collecting the benefits that you need and deserve.

Who is Eligible to Recover Benefits When a Workplace Death Occurs?

Work-related deaths involve special provisions of Florida workers’ compensation benefit laws which outline who can recover workers’ compensation benefits.

In addition to providing income benefits, these provisions provide compensation to cover funeral costs, burial expenses and more.

When deciding whether benefits are owed to a dependent, the insurance company considers many factors, including the claimant’s relationship to the deceased worker and whether the family members seeking benefits were financially dependent upon their loved one for support.

With the help of attorneys Stephen Berlin and team, we can determine if you qualify to recover benefits and for how long.

For example:

  • Widowed spouses may recover death benefits up to $150,000
  • Minor children of the deceased employee may recover income benefits until they reach the age of 18 (or the age of 22 if they are full-time students)
  • Dependent parents of a worker killed on the job may also recover benefits under certain circumstances, but these may be less than a spouse or dependent child would have received

Our Fatal Work Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help

Just like accidents involving serious injuries, the process of filing workers’ compensation fatality claims has its own share of complexities and important concerns.

With over 22 years of experience handling only workers’ compensation cases, we can make a difference in the outcome of your claim.

Attorney Stephen Berlin is extremely familiar with the unique issues that come with death claims. Under his guidance, Mr. Berlin will help ensure that the workers’ compensation insurance company provides you with the benefits you are entitled to.

What Do You Need to File a Workers’ Compensation Death Claim?

In fatal work accidents, particular conditions must be met so that claims can be processed.

In order to verify relationships for dependent survivors, documents like the following must be submitted to the employer’s insurance carrier:

  • Death certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Birth certificates for dependent minor children

Fatality-related workers’ compensation claims have a two-year statute of limitations for filing and death benefits are payable if death results within one year from an accident or injury.

Unfortunately for many families, the reality is that they do not even know where to start to identify and locate the documents needed to file a claim.

Receive the Vital Benefits You Deserve

As a workers’ compensation law firm working to protect your interests, we understand that the period following an injured worker’s death is always a very difficult time for their families.

We are here to assist the spouse and dependents of a worker who has been killed on the job by identifying and collecting all of the necessary documentation that is required so that benefits can be commenced immediately.

We help ensure that all claims are properly completed and timely filed. We want you to begin receiving the vital benefits you deserve as soon as possible.

Florida Workers’ Comp Death Benefits

In Florida, workers’ comp death benefits are paid to the surviving spouse or children under 18. Full-time students are eligible until age 22.

Other dependents, such as parents or siblings, may prove eligible if they directly depended on the deceased worker for support.

These claims must be filed within two years, and the death must have occurred within one year of the accident to qualify for benefits.

However, there is an exception if a work-related continuous disability was the cause of death. Under these circumstances, the death must have occurred within five years.

Benefits include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses, up to $7,500
  • Educational benefits for surviving spouses
  • The spouse can receive up to 50 percent of the worker’s weekly wage, subject to a cap.
  • A surviving spouse with children also receives 16.67 percent of the worker’s weekly salary for each child.

There is a $150,000 cap on the amount the employer or insurer must pay for an employee’s death. That means that death benefits, funeral expenses, and other expenses cannot exceed this amount.

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What’s the Difference Between Workers’ Comp Death Benefits and Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

If your loved one dies because of a job-related accident or illness, you can receive workers’ comp death benefits from the employer who would not admit liability.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, as the plaintiff, you must prove that the defendant, the employer, is liable for the death of your family member. Defendants may also include other parties bearing responsibility for the fatality.

What Instances Make Sense to Pursue a Workplace Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Workers’ comp was designed to prevent injured workers or family members of deceased workers from filing lawsuits against the employer. However, that does not mean the grieving family cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit against third parties.

For instance, if the person was killed in a construction accident, a third party, such as the construction site owner, contractor, subcontractor, or product manufacturer, may face a wrongful death lawsuit.

In addition, an employer is also vulnerable to a wrongful death lawsuit in cases involving gross negligence or intentional conduct.

Unlike workers’ comp benefits, filing a wrongful death lawsuit allows the plaintiff to seek damages such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of income and inheritance

Since the overall compensation amount is limited under workers’ comp death benefits, a wrongful death lawsuit may provide a larger settlement.

In Florida, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The claim is filed on behalf of the late person’s family.

The lawsuit must name all family members with an interest in the wrongful death lawsuit, including the surviving spouse and the deceased’s children. If the person did not leave a spouse or children, the deceased’s parents are listed. Compensation is distributed to the beneficiaries.

The Florida statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the death date, not the accident date.

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