According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers who are killed on the job are entitled to death benefits through the state workers’ compensation system. These benefits can help surviving family members cover funerals and other related expenses.
Two types of death benefit your family may be eligible to receive are workers’ compensation death benefits and Social Security survivor benefits. Workers’ compensation death benefits are paid out by your employer (or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier) and are generally tax-free. Social Security survivor benefits, on the other hand, are paid out by the Social Security Administration and are subject to federal income taxes.
But how will your family know if you’re eligible for death benefits? And if you are, how do they go about receiving them?
Contact the employer
Your family must contact the employer if you die due to a workplace hazard. The employer must investigate the incident and determine whether any safety violations occurred. If the employer determines that a violation did occur, they may be subject to fines or other penalties. For your reference, here are some of the common hazards in workplaces:
- Caught in between
- Fire or explosion
- Mobile equipment
- Repetitive motion injuries
After the employer has been notified of your death, they should inform your family about death benefits and how to apply for them. Your family should also contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to file a report. OSHA will investigate the incident and determine whether any safety regulations were violated. The employer may be subject to fines or other penalties if OSHA finds a violation.
Consult a lawyer
The next thing you must do is consult a wrongful death lawyer. A wrongful death lawyer will help your family navigate the process of filing for death benefits and ensure they receive the total amount to which they’re entitled. The lawyer will also help to determine whether any other claims, such as a personal injury claim, can be filed against the employer.
However, finding a capable lawyer for your case can be pretty tricky. When it comes to finding an attorney, here are some things to consider:
- How many years of experience does the lawyer have?
- What is the lawyer’s success rate in wrongful death cases?
- Does the lawyer has experience with your type of case?
- How much will the lawyer charge you?
Overall, the lawyer should be able to help the family with the process of filing for death benefits and ensure that they are fairly compensated.
File a claim with the state workers’ compensation board
After you’ve consulted with a lawyer, the next step is to file a claim with the state workers’ compensation board. This government agency oversees the workers’ compensation system in your state. Each state has its rules and regulations, so it’s essential to consult with an attorney familiar with your state’s laws.
To file a claim, you’ll need to submit certain documents, including the death certificate and proof of your relationship with the deceased. You may also be required to submit medical records, police reports, and other documentation. Once the claim is filed, the state workers’ compensation board will review it and decide. If the claim is approved, the family will receive death benefits.
It’s important to note that the state workers’ compensation board may deny the claim if they determine that the death was not caused by a workplace hazard. In such cases, the family may need to file a lawsuit against the employer.
Receive death benefits
If the claim is approved, the family will receive death benefits. These benefits are typically paid out in a lump sum and are tax-free. The benefit amount will depend on the state in which you live and the extent of your injuries.
In most cases, death benefits cover funeral expenses, lost wages, and other damages. However, they will not cover pain and suffering or other noneconomic damages. Yet the compensation from death benefits can help your family to move forward after your passing.
Ensuring that your family gets compensated
Of course, your family will not think of death benefits after your passing. That is why it is essential to have a plan in place before a workplace accident happens. Make sure you understand your state’s workers’ compensation system and know your rights. If you are ever injured in a workplace accident, seek medical attention immediately and contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Inform your family about what they must do in case of your death due to workplace negligence. This way, they will be prepared to take the necessary steps to get the death benefits and compensation they deserve.
No one ever wants to think about the possibility of their own death. However, it’s essential to be prepared for the worst. Keep your family informed about the steps they need to take in case of your death due to workplace negligence so that they can get compensated.
If you have any questions about the workers’ compensation system or your rights, contact an experienced attorney today.