Former workers who are put on worker’s compensation, due to a workplace injury causing permanent injury, can pass away unexpectedly, due to other issues. A heart attack can occur because the worker may be wheelchair enabled and cannot exercise. Lack of any exercise, even for healthy people, can cause deterioration of body strength, leading to many health issues, including death.
While the death of the former worker may not directly be from the job-related injury, the spouse, children, and any relatives dependent on the deceased worker’s compensation are still eligible to receive those compensation benefits. They are divided up by the remaining survivors in order of relationship to the deceased. The maximum amount that former workers on worker’s compensation receive are 66 2/3 percent of the worker’s former salary.
John Bailey (not his real name) was married to Felicia for 12 years and they had two sons, Brandon, 8, and Frederick, 10. They were also taking care of John’s elderly mother, 81, who depended on everyone in the home to help her out in her last years. Here is how that 66 2/3 percent would now be divided after John, who received $4,000 per month, recently passed away from a sudden heart attack.
If Felicia had no children, she would have received the full 66 2/3 percent ($4,000) which would continue until she died or married again. If she married again, she would have received two years of lump-sum benefits that now closes the claim. But Felicia has her two sons by John, so now Felicia receives 35 percent of the monthly income from benefits.
As there are two sons, they split the remaining amount of 31 2/3 percent left over, after their mother receives her share each month. If Felicia, their mother, passed away from a car crash, for example, the two sons would receive the $4,000 each month, split between the two of them, until they reach the age of 18. That payment is extended if they enter college as full-time students. Monthly payments would continue until they finished college or reached the age of 22.
John’s mother could be in a very difficult situation if, for example, Felicia passed away in that car accident before at least one son had turned 18. A guardian or close relative would need to be appointed to officially care for the two sons and their grandmother. If Felicia, Brandon, and Frederick died together in a car accident, then John’s mother, as a full remaining dependent of John, would now receive 25 percent of that compensation payment. Depending on who is left to inherit the house, John’s mother may have to move to assisted living or a nursing home.
It is important that when anyone is injured in a work-related accident and must go on life-long worker’s compensation, that everyone in the family works out all the different scenarios that could happen. A worker’s compensation attorney with years of experience in the field has many solutions and resources that can help you. Your attorney’s job is not always done when the claim is accepted and when payments begin.
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