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Death benefits: What happens if you die from a work-related injury?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

When you suffer an injury at work, you may be able to claim benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. By Georgia law, these benefits include compensation for medical expenses, disability and even rehabilitation.

But what happens if your work-related injuries are fatal? What happens to your benefits if you pass away?

If you die from a work-related injury, your dependents may be eligible to receive benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation. How does this work, and what benefits will your dependents receive?

Benefits for accidental death

If a work accident leads to death or a person perishes during the disability period following an accident, their family receives several forms of compensation from the employer. These benefits include:

  • Burial costs: A burial fee of up to $7,500. If the employee has no dependents, this is the only compensation their employer will provide.
  • Compensation for dependents: The employer will pay the deceased employee’s dependents two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, or a maximum of $800 per week. A widowed spouse with no children is limited to a total of $320,000 unless they remarry.

The employer must pay compensation to any person designated as the employee’s dependent. If there aren’t any dependents specified, the employer will only pay for the burial costs, with half of the amount that would’ve gone to dependents paid to Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

Who can an employee name as a dependent?

Generally speaking, an employee can name their family as dependents. They include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The employee’s children
  • The employee’s dependent grandchildren

If the deceased worker has no spouse or children, their sibling or parent may be eligible for death benefits if they can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased employee. If there’s more than one dependent, the death benefit is split among the dependents.

It can be heartbreaking to be a spouse, child or relative of an employee who tragically died from a work accident. Fortunately, workers’ comp can provide compensation in such difficult times. If there are any issues with claiming this death benefit, the surviving kin can turn to legal help. An attorney may be able to help advise the spouse or children of the deceased on how they can apply for benefits and appeal a denial.