Are Surviving Family Members Entitled To Compensation If A Loved One Is Killed At Work?
Each year, more than 5,300 workers die on the job. Many Floridians have dangerous occupations, including construction. But are a worker’s surviving family members entitled to any compensation if their loved one is killed on the job?
It is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney if your loved one died at work and you are wondering if you can receive workers’ compensation for a work-related death. Schedule a consultation with our Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys to discuss your options.
Can Surviving Family Members Receive Workers’ Compensation if a Loved One Dies at Work?
If a worker is killed in a workplace accident or died due to an occupational disease, the surviving family members may be able to receive death benefits by filing a workers’ compensation claim against an employer’s insurance company.
Note: A deceased worker’s employer should have workers’ compensation insurance for surviving family members to be entitled to death benefits.
Under Florida law, any employer with at least 4 employees must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover work-related injuries and deaths. For employers in the construction industry, workers’ compensation is required for every employer with 1 or more employees.
However, in order to receive death benefits through an employer’s insurance company, surviving family members must file a claim.
What if the Deceased Worker’s Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation?
If an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, the surviving family members may be able to pursue compensation by filing a lawsuit against the deceased worker’s employer or a third party if the death was caused by negligence, carelessness, or intentional conduct.
However, if an employer carries workers’ compensation, filing a workers’ comp claim is often the only way surviving family members can receive death benefits for their loved one’s on-the-job death.
Note: If you accept a settlement offered by the employer’s insurance company, you automatically waive your right to sue the employer.
How Can Surviving Family Members Receive Compensation After a Loved One’s Death?
Not all family members are eligible for compensation if a loved one dies at work. Who can receive death benefits after a loved one’s on-the-job death depends on whether the deceased worker was married and/or had any kids.
If a worker is not married and has no children, compensation is available for immediate family members, including parents and siblings. Generally, a family member who relied on the deceased worker for support is eligible for compensation. If a worker has a wife/husband and children, these surviving family members will be entitled to compensation if a loved one is killed at work.
When a court approves surviving family members’ claim, death benefits will be paid weekly. The total amount will be divided between all eligible family members who applied for death benefits. In addition, under Fla. Stat. § 440.16, the surviving family members can receive up to $7,500 as reimbursement for funeral expenses.
The surviving spouse may also be entitled to receive payment for post-secondary education student fees if the deceased worker was the breadwinner.