Death Benefits Under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation System
Surviving dependents of a worker who passes away due to a work-related injury or illness may be eligible for death benefits under Florida’s workers’ compensation system. These benefits include wage compensation, funeral expenses and educational benefits for a spouse.
To be compensable, death must result from the accident within one year or follow continuous disability within 5 years. The courts have construed the term continuous disability to mean continuous suffering.
The maximum amount of wage compensation per family is $150,000 but the actual amount paid out can be quite confusing. Benefit amounts are distributed based upon the number of family members eligible to receive them. To qualify for benefits, the individual must be both a dependent of the deceased worker and related as the deceased’ s spouse, child, parent, brother, sister or grandchild.
The burden of proving dependency is the claimant’s and requires that the claimant meet a three-pronged test:
1. The claimant was dependent upon the deceased for support;
2. The claimant received substantial support from the deceased; and
3. The deceased provided such support regularly and the claimant reasonably expected that the deceased would have provided in the future.
The test to determine substantial support is whether the claimant relies on the contributions to maintain his or her customary standard of living, and, whether in the absence of continued supp01i, the lifestyle of the claimant would be materially altered. If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse will receive 50% of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage. The deceased’s average weekly wage is the average of his or her earnings for the 13 weeks immediately preceding the date of accident.
If there are children, the spouse receives 50% of the average weekly wage and an additional 16. 7% on the children’s behalf. If the deceased had children but was not married, each child receives 33.33% of the average weekly wage. Regardless of the number of children, the maximum that can be paid out is 66.7%. Payments to the children stop once the child reaches 18, or age 22 if the child is a fulltime student. If money remains after paying the spouse and children, the next eligible class is the deceased’s parents. If they qualify as dependents, each parent receives 25% of the average weekly wage. If there are brothers, sisters and grandchildren who were dependent upon the deceased, they are each entitled to 15% of the average weekly wage.
The workers’ compensation statute also provides up to $7,500 in funeral expenses. The deceased’s spouse may also be entitled to benefits for educational or retraining expenses.
Have Further Questions?
Do you still have questions about workers’ compensation benefits? Our team of attorneys has nearly 100 years of combined experience in helping clients understand their legal options following workplace injuries and get the compensation they need to focus on healing instead of on how to pay the bills. Contact Legler, Murphy & Battaglia, LLP to schedule a free consultation.