Workplace accidents often result in severe, life-threatening injuries. And, in many cases, workers lose their lives as a result of these injuries. In this tragic situation, the surviving relatives should contact an Atlanta workers comp lawyer to help them file a claim for workers compensation death benefits.
In this article, we will discuss the most important things you need to know about claiming and winning these benefits in Georgia.
When Can Families Seek Death Benefits?
According to the workers comp laws in Georgia, surviving relatives are entitled to seek death benefits if:
- The deceased worker was covered by the workers comp system.
- The employee was on the clock and performing job-related duties when they were injured.
- The death occurred as a direct consequence of workplace injuries.
- There must be jurisdiction in Georgia: the accident happened in Georgia, the employment contract was signed in Georgia, the deceased employee is a resident of Georgia and/or the worker’s job activities were not performed exclusively out of state.
An experienced attorney will check that all these four conditions are met and outline them in the claim filed on behalf of the family.
Available Benefits for Surviving Family Members
Georgia workers compensation death benefits consist of two different elements:
- Burial expenses capped at $7,500.
- Indemnity benefits.
The indemnity benefits are paid to the dependents of the deceased worker (more on this topic later in this article). The indemnity benefits shall be paid in the same amount and for the same period of time as disability benefits for total incapacity. However, the total amount payable to the dependents cannot exceed $320,000.
Who Is Eligible to Seek Workers Compensation Death Benefits?
Legislators in Georgia define two categories of people who have the right to receive benefits after a worker’s death in a work-related accident:
- Primary beneficiaries
- Secondary beneficiaries.
Who Are the Primary Beneficiaries Under Georgia Workers Comp Law?
The primary beneficiaries who can receive workers comp death benefits are the surviving spouse and children. However, there are some aspects that must be clarified here:
- A spouse must prove their status with a valid marriage certificate. Common law marriages and live-in partners are not recognized as dependants.
- Children are defined by law as legitimate natural minor children or adopted children if the legal process of adoption is complete on the date of the death.
There are a few exceptions related to death benefits payable to children over the age of 18. These are:
- The child is over 18 and enrolled full-time in school.
- The child is over 18 and physically unable to be gainfully employed.
- The child is under 22 and a full-time student or enrolled in a postsecondary institution of higher learning.
As for spouses, they may collect death benefits for the maximum period allowed for workers’ comp benefits – 400 weeks – or until one of the following occurs:
- The spouse remarries
- The spouse enters into a live-in relationship akin to marriage, where the parties share the same residence and living expenses
- The spouse dies.
Who Qualifies as a Secondary Beneficiary?
Secondary beneficiaries are any other dependents of the deceased workers, if there are no primary beneficiaries or they waive their right to collect death benefits. These are, in most cases, the workers’ parents and stepchildren.
Here, the law applies a principle called partial beneficiaries. This means that the dependent can receive only the equivalent of the deceased workers’ contribution to their living expenses, not the entire amount available as per workers’ comp rules.
For example, a worker contributed $250 per week to their parents’ rent and groceries costs. Thus, the parents can collect only $250 per week in workers compensation death benefits, even if their deceased child would have been entitled to a larger amount as wage replacement had they survived the accident.
A Dedicated Atlanta Workers Comp Lawyer Will Fight for Your Rights!
An Atlanta workers comp lawyer knows that nothing can compensate you for the loss of a loved one. The emptiness they leave behind cannot be filled with money. But you deserve financial security, especially if the deceased worker was the main breadwinner in your family.
For this reason, we encourage you to reach out to us if your loved one lost their life in a work-related accident. We offer each new client a free case evaluation, so you have nothing to lose. Contact our law firm today at 470-518-5026 !