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Workers compensation for death: Deceased’s adult children awarded compensation after death benefit claim

A worker in Australia suffered a work-related injury in October 2000, and subsequent injuries on the job in both February 2001 and January 2002. As a consequence of these workplace accidents, which caused difficulties in his lower extremities including feet and toes, the worker developed a series of health issues including infections and poor blood circulation.

As his condition worsened in the years following, he went through a number of surgical procedures that required amputations, including toes and part of his right leg. Nonetheless, his health continued to decline and kidney failure led to his death in 2010.

Because these issues began as a result of a workplace accident, the workers compensation scheme granted death benefits for surviving dependents. In this particular instance, the worker’s three adult biological children got in touch with Gerard Malouf and Partners in an attempt to make a compensation claim on the benefits.

At this point, we set about trying to establish their dependency status with the Workers Compensation Commission, including statements, legal agreements, accounts and personal letters. In most cases, benefits would be a spouse first and, failing that, a child of 16 years or younger. However, the claimants’ mother left the family when they were all at a young age, and they were raised by their father, who never remarried.

We were able to settle after a four-hour conciliation process, resulting in the deceased’s adult children being able to claim the benefits they were due.

Read on to learn more about how we at Gerard Malouf and Partners may be able to help you make a similarly successful claim on workers compensation for death

Does workers compensation cover death benefits?

The simple answer to this question is, “Yes,” but there will be a number of factors that impact what those benefits actually end up being.

There are a number of benefits you may be able to claim if a wage earner dies as a result of a work accident, depending on your situation and the nature of the work-related death.

In many cases, you will at least be able to receive a benefit that will cover funeral expenses for the deceased employee, support payments, or a lump sum payment.

Who can get workers compensation death benefits?

As mentioned, the death benefits stemming from a work injury will go to the spouse of the deceased (married or de facto), and after that, to a dependent child or children.

As in the case outlined above, adult children may also be able to claim dependency, but will likely need to produce compelling evidence as to why they are dependent on the deceased and to what degree. Supporting evidence could include birth certificates, bank statements, documents proving they are a full-time student.

Who can file a claim for workers compensation death benefits?

Any of the people mentioned above can file a claim for a deceased’s death benefits, or a legal representative may be able to do so on their behalf.

What happens to a workers compensation case if the person dies?

Typically, workers compensation insurers will have to receive a notification of an employee death and will then begin investigating as to what kind of compensation may be necessary. This usually starts with written communication to the deceased’s family, or their legal representatives, while also investigating liability.

That investigation may include testimony from any potential witnesses and the employer in question, as well as supporting information, the death certificate, medical records related to treating illnesses and injuries that occurred due to work, and any official records (such as those from the coroner or police).

How are workers compensation death benefits distributed?

There is no hard and fast answer to this question. Depending on when the injury (or injuries) that led to a worker’s death, they can be distributed as a lump sum payment, weekly payments for dependent children, or to simply cover “reasonable” funeral expenses (up to $15,000).

The size of the lump sum benefit and weekly payments can also vary depending on the date of the accident. If the work injury that eventually led to death occurred after 24 October 2007, they will typically be paid in full, but as a percentage depending on the beneficiaries’ degree of dependency on the deceased.

How do you make a claim for death benefits?

You or your legal representative will first have to notify the insurer of the work-related death and lodge a compensation claim.

Providing any of the supporting documentation outlined above (as best you can) will help you in your attempt to make a successful claim.

Workers compensation, wrongful death or both?

This is another question without an easy answer. To determine whether you should seek wrongful death compensation in addition to the above benefits to which you may be entitled, it’s vital to seek legal advice from the experts at Gerard Malouf and Partners.

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 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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