Missouri worker’s compensation death benefits are designed to help support you financially and ease the burden of daily expenses after the death of a loved one at work. If you have lost someone in a workplace accident, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. Below, our Missouri workers’ compensation lawyers explain what these benefits are, if you are eligible, and how to claim the benefits you need. Contact us today so we can help you.
What are Missouri Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?
There are two types of benefits survivors–who are usually the surviving spouse or children–can receive. They are as follows:
- The employee died while performing employment duties: When the workplace accident is so severe it is immediately fatal and the employee is killed while performing employment duties, survivors can receive weekly benefits from the employer of their insurance carrier. Survivors can receive 66 and 2/3 percent of the deceased’s employees’ average weekly wage for a full year immediately following the employee’s death. The weekly benefits available may be capped at a certain point. Employers and insurance companies must also provide up to $5,000 in funeral expenses.
- The employee’s death is caused by something other than the work injury: When an employee’s death is not caused by a work injury, survivors can receive any accrued benefits the deceased employee was entitled to. These benefits can consist of a lump sum payment for any permanent partial disability which might have accrued.
Who is Eligible for Death Benefits?
When an employee is in a fatal accident at work, the employer or their insurance carrier is required to report the incident to the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The DWC must be told of the accident and death in the first 30 days after the employer or insurance company learns of the injury. The Division must also inform surviving family members of any right they have to benefits according to the law. When a death is not reported within 30 days of the accident, survivors can reach out to a lawyer at JSK who can contact the department of the DWC that deals with fraud and noncompliance.
After the death of an employee is caused by an injury that is compensable under the workers’ compensation system, survivors can become entitled to benefits. Successors or survivors are able to claim benefits after a death in the following situations:
- The employee died due to a workplace injury
- The employee can continue to work after the injury, but they then suffer a compensable permanent partial disability, after which the employee dies due to causes not related to the workplace accident or injury
- The employee suffered a permanent total disability due to a workplace injury and dies afterward from a cause not related to the work injury
Duration of Death Benefits
Under workers’ compensation law, only dependents are entitled to death benefits. The law defines dependents as a surviving spouse and children under the age of 18 years old who were dependent on the deceased.
If a child is over the age of 18 years old but is a full-time student, does not have the capacity to earn an income for themselves, or has served as an active member of the military, there may be the possibility of continuing benefits. When a dependent child is over the age of 18 and is a full-time student, they may continue receiving benefits until they reach 22 years of age, or until they are no longer enrolled in school full-time, whichever happens first. Children who do not have the capacity to earn an income to support themselves can receive benefits for the duration of their lifetime, or until they have the capacity to earn an income.
Sometimes, there are multiple dependents entitled to benefits in a case. For example, a person with three children may be involved in a fatal accident. In these cases, the weekly benefit is distributed among all dependents. When one person is no longer eligible to receive benefits, the amount of benefits paid remains the same, but there are adjustments made to the share each survivor receives.
Surviving spouses are entitled to a weekly benefit, or a portion of the weekly benefit, for the duration of their life or until they remarry. Even after a surviving spouse remarries, they may receive a lump sum valued at two years’ worth of benefits.
In any other type of case not mentioned above, the level of dependency for any survivor is determined depending on the facts at the time of the accident that caused the death.
How to Claim Survivor’s Benefits
After a fatal workplace accident, the employer or insurance company that provides them with workers’ compensation coverage should contact you and start providing benefits. If you have not heard from either of these parties and you believe that you have a right to benefits, it is important to get in touch with the employer. You can also contact the insurance company providing the employer with coverage. You may also have a case for the Division of Workers’ Compensation Dispute Management Unit.
In some cases, you may have to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. You should always speak to JSK before filing a claim.
Benefits for Certain Emergency Workers when Killed On the Job
Survivors of certain emergency personnel may be able to claim benefits. These workers include volunteer firefighters, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and air ambulance registered nurses. Survivors of certain emergency personnel killed on or after August 28, 2018 can also claim benefits. These workers include flight crew members, air ambulance registered respiratory therapists, and public safety officers. Certain facts must surround these deaths for survivors to be eligible for benefits, and they are as follows:
- The death was the result of the intentional violent act of another person, or was the result of an accident
- The deceased was actively performing their employment duties and there is a link between the commission of an act of violence, the accident, and the employment duties being performed, even if the deceased was not on duty at the time, the deceased was traveling to or from their place of work, or the deceased was taking a rest or meal break while they were on duty
- The injury sustained was likely to cause death
- The date of death was within the first three hundred weeks from the day the injury was originally sustained
It is important to note that survivor’s benefits are not paid when the death was due to the deceased’s impairment because of alcohol, drugs, or willful misconduct.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Workplace Accident
Survivor benefits are often available through the workers’ compensation system in Missouri, but there may be other types of compensation, as well. Sometimes, fatal workplace accidents are caused by a third party, or an entity that is unrelated to the employer. In these instances, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the liable party.
Wrongful death claims are personal injury claims. When filing a personal injury claim, you must show that another person acted negligently, or carelessly. You must also show a direct link between their negligence and the accident that caused your injury. And finally prove the full value of your losses.
Although there is more to prove in a wrongful death claim than in a workers’ compensation claim, these civil cases also hold some benefits. For example, through a wrongful death claim, you can claim additional damages, such as pain and suffering, which are not available in workers’ compensation claims. Reach out to a lawyer at JSK who can help you further.
Why Work with a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Regardless of what type of claim you file after losing someone in a fatal workplace accident, it is important to work with a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer at JSK. An attorney at JSK will investigate your case very thoroughly and start building your case immediately. We will also collect evidence and preserve it, such as obtaining statements from eyewitnesses. An attorney will also have the resources that may be necessary in your case, such as financial specialists, life planners, accident reconstructionists, and other professionals who can provide additional evidence.
Call Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Missouri for a Free Consultation
Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing someone you love in a sudden and unexpected workplace accident is even harder. At the Law Office of Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC, our Missouri workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help during this difficult time. We will review the facts of your case, determine if you are eligible for survivor benefits, and advise you of all of your legal options. Call us now at (618) 726-2222 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys and to learn more about how we can help.