If an employee has died as the result of a workplace injury, the payment of death benefits depends on whether the worker had any dependents. If the employee had no dependents, death benefit payments will be applied to costs that have accrued on behalf of the deceased, such as medical and burial expenses. If a deceased worker had dependents, those dependents are likely eligible for death benefits. The goal of these payments is to help families who have lost the financial support their loved one had provided. A worker’s family can also receive up to $7,000 to help cover funeral and burial costs.
Dependents are entitled to sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the deceased employee’s average weekly wages, but the benefits cannot exceed 91 percent of the State Average Weekly Wage (AWW) for Colorado. Effective July 1, 2018, Colorado’s AWW was established as $1,085.55 by the Division of Workers’ Compensation. This figure is updated on an annual basis. Thus, the maximum benefit rate for death benefits is 91% of the current AWW, or $987.84. To be eligible for the maximum benefits, the worker must have had at least $1,481.76 in weekly income before being fatally injured. The minimum death benefit is set at 25% of the maximum benefit, or $246.96 currently.
Generally, your dependency status, and therefore your eligibility for death benefits, is determined as of the date of the worker’s injury. Certain dependents are presumed as a matter of law. These include the spouse of the deceased person and minor children under 18. Minor children who are 18, but not yet 21, years old are also considered dependents if they relied on the deceased for support and are full time students.
There are other cases where a worker becomes disabled due to their work-related injuries, but passes away months or even years later. In these situations, their dependents may still be entitled to workers’ compensation disability benefits. If more than two years have passed after an injury, it is presumed that a worker’s death was not a result of the injury. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, such as in cases of asbestosis or uranium exposure, and this presumption can be rebutted with evidence. Even if your loved one’s death was several years after an injury, you may still be eligible for benefits.
Adams County Workers’ Compensation Attorney Provides Dedicated Legal Service to Help You Obtain the Benefits You Deserve.
If your loved one was injured on the job and passed away, consult with experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Adams County about whether you may be eligible for benefits. The Law Office of John A. Anderson, Jr., LLC can provide you with caring, accurate advice when facing such a difficult event. Contact us or call (303) 880-7994 today.