According to www.workcomp.virginia.gov, death benefits can be awarded to :
“A surviving spouse, children under 18, children under 23 enrolled full time in an accredited education institution, parents in destitute circumstances or other qualifying dependents may be entitled to wage loss benefits.
Death benefits include funeral expenses not to exceed $10,000 and transportation cost of $1,000”
If an employee dies as a result of his job, his dependents may be entitled to funeral expenses and two-thirds of his average weekly wage up to 500 weeks. If there are multiple dependents, such as a wife and children, the weekly benefit is divided equally. If a widower or widow remarries, then his/her benefits are terminated. When a child turns 18, his or her benefits are terminated. Before these events occur, it may be best to talk to an attorney to discuss settlement options.
Death benefits in the Virginia workers’ compensation system can be a fickle thing. My heart goes out to anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Like work injuries, work related deaths must be the result of a specific, identifiable event or, possibly, the result of an occupational disease.
Death benefits can provide for step-children of a worker who was killed on the job but they don’t provide for unborn children. So, if Jim is killed in a work accident and his wife, Jane, is 9 months pregnant with their child (we will call the unborn child “John”), Jane may be entitled to survivorship benefits but John is not! John is not entitled to survivorship benefits because he was not “alive” and considered as a “dependent” at the time of Jim’s death! Please understand, I certainly do not agree with this way of denying benefits but this is the way the law is written in Virginia.
Obviously, this is just one situation and every scenario is different. If someone in your family has lost their life due to a work related injury, you need to speak to an experienced attorney right away. There are time limits on your eligibility to file for death benefits so call my office at (877) 755-7744 and find out how to protect those benefits. Workers’ compensation death benefits will never make up for the loss you have suffered but, hopefully, the workers’ compensation insurance assistance will at least help to ease some of the burden that families face in the presence of such a loss.
If you are dealing with the loss of a family member due to a work injury or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (877) 755-7744.
Michele Lewane, Esq.