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Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation if a Loved One Dies?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, close to 100 people die in a workplace accident in Arizona each year. Some of the most common fatal accidents include fires and explosions, falls, and motor vehicle wrecks. Other workers will succumb after contracting an occupational illness, like asbestosis or pulmonary obstruction disease.

Losing a loved one is emotionally devastating. There is also a financial toll. Many people call our firm worried that their loved one’s workers’ compensation claim has died along with them. The good news is that you might receive a death benefit if your loved one died because of an on-the-job injury. One of the Arizona workers’ compensation attorneys at Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC, explains more in this article.

Arizona Benefits for a Workplace Death

You can find the relevant law at Arizona Statutes § 23-1046. This statute lays out the benefits that certain family members can receive:

Death Compensation Benefit

Some family members can receive compensation based on their loved one’s average monthly wage at death. The amount you might receive depends on different factors, such as who survives the worker. Here are examples spelled out in the law:

  1.       If a spouse survives but there are no children, then the spouse receives 66.67% of the deceased workers’ average monthly wage. This benefit is paid until the spouse dies or remarries. At remarriage, a spouse gets two years of compensation paid as a lump sum.
  2.       If a spouse and children survive, then the spouse gets 35% of the deceased worker’s average monthly wage, until death or remarriage. Surviving children receive 31.67% of the worker’s average wage, which is divided equally between them. Children can receive benefits indefinitely if they cannot support themselves. Otherwise, they will typically receive benefits until they reach age 18 or, if enrolled as a full-time student, until age 22. After children become too old, any benefit reverts to the spouse.
  3.       If only children survive a deceased worker, they split 66.67% of the worker’s average monthly wage. This rule applies when the surviving spouse remarries or dies. The same durational limits apply: usually, children receive benefits until age 18 or 22, if full-time students.
  4.       Parents might receive benefits if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children under 18, and the parents were wholly dependent on their deceased child. An individual parent can receive 25% of the average monthly wage, and two wholly dependent parents can receive 40% combined. Partially dependent parents can receive less.
  5.       Siblings under the age of 18 can receive a death benefit if there is no surviving spouse, minor children, or dependent parents. The amount available will depend on the number of eligible siblings.

Burial expenses

The law makes up to $5,000 available to bury your loved one. With the increasing costs of funerals, this might not be enough to fully pay for a burial, but it should defray some of the cost.

Medical expenses

Your loved one probably received medical care after an accident or as treatment for an occupational illness. Imagine your loved one contracted mesothelioma due to working around asbestos. They could have had surgery and other treatment, costing tens of thousands of dollars.

So long as the treatment went toward an on-the-job injury, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company should pay for all reasonably necessary medical care. Hold onto any bills which are sent to you. Show them to your Arizona workers’ compensation attorney.

Why You Need an Attorney

This is a difficult time emotionally for all involved. Still, you have important legal rights to financial support after a tragic on-the-job accident claims the life of your loved one. Some people are eligible to receive substantial benefits for many years. It is incumbent that you take all necessary steps to secure your family’s financial future.

There are certain legal issues that arise, which a lawyer can help with:

One issue is timing. Your loved one might have suffered an accident months before dying. You might be denied benefits if too much time has passed between the accident and death. Work closely with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona to better understand how death claims are analyzed.

In other cases, beneficiaries need to prove they are actually eligible for benefits. For example, you might be a parent who was dependent on your child for financial support. If he dies without a spouse or children, you could possibly receive a death benefit. Questions might arise about whether you were wholly dependent or only partially dependent. A lawyer will have ideas for what evidence you can bring in support of your claim.

Surviving spouses and children might also need legal assistance. For example, a child might be disabled and unable to support himself even after reaching age 18. Under Arizona’s law, this child should remain eligible to receive benefits until they can support themselves. You would benefit from meeting with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona to review what evidence you need to support a claim.

Remember to have everyone named on the paperwork. If someone is left off—like a child who is in college—then receiving benefits will end up delayed.

Can You Sue Your Loved One’s Employer?

This is a common question. Generally, the answer is “no.” In Arizona, you cannot sue an employer for a workplace accident or illness. There are some exceptions, however, such as when an employer intentionally injures your loved one.

Other options include suing a third party for your loved one’s injury. As an example, a defective product could have contributed to the death. A workers’ comp lawyer at Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC, can describe these types of lawsuits in greater detail.

Call Our Top Arizona Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Workers’ compensation death cases present complicated legal and factual issues. The sooner you reach out to an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer, the better. Please call our law firm today to schedule a meeting with a lawyer at our firm. We can discuss your chances of receiving a death benefit.


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