When someone loses a loved one to a work-related injury or illness, they may feel like they have nowhere to turn. What will they do without that person’s income? How will they pay the medical and funeral expenses? These are ALL reasonable questions that the Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers of Kademenos, Wisehart & Hines Co., L.P.A. are here to answer.
We understand that honest, hardworking people are drastically impacted by the loss of a spouse, parent, or child: both emotionally and financially. Our certified workers’ compensation specialists Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos help people get through the workers’ compensation claims process and obtain the death benefits to which they have a right.
For more information on workers’ compensation death benefits, contact us at (419) 625-7770.
Ohio Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Under Ohio Revised Code §4123.59 when an injury or disease from work causes an employee’s death, benefits are provided to the employee’s dependents.
How Much are Workers’ Comp Death Benefits?
If there is at least one dependent alive at the time of the worker’s death, that individual is to receive sixty-six and two-thirds % of the employee’s average weekly wage. There is also a formula for determining if this amount is within the minimum and maximum amounts allowed by law. Therefore, the amount a dependent receives may not be exactly two-thirds.
If there is more than one dependent, then this weekly benefit is apportioned among the survivors. The case administrator has discretion in dividing the death benefits between the whole, partial, and prospective dependents.
Who’s Entitled to Death Benefits?
Individuals who were dependent on the employee’s income while they were alive may obtain death benefits. Under Ohio law, these specific individuals are presumed to be wholly dependent on a deceased worker:
- A surviving spouse living with the employee at the time of their death
- A surviving spouse separated from the employee at the time of their death due to the aggression of the employee
- Children under the age of 18
- Children under 25, if in school full time at an accredited institution
- Aduld children who are physically or mentally disabled and unable to work
To receive death benefits, you must be a surviving spouse, lineal descendant, brother, or sister. Whether or not someone is a dependent will be determined by the facts at the time of the injury that resulted in the worker’s death.
Partial & Prospective Dependents
Individuals are deemed partially dependent and receive benefits if they received financial support from the employee, like help with rent, groceries, or medical bills, but did not entirely rely on the worker. Prospective dependents are not wholly or partially dependent on the employee, but circumstances indicate they needed financial support, and the employee intended to help.
Death Benefits for a Surviving Spouse
When the dependent is their surviving spouse, the weekly death benefit is paid to the spouse and continues until that individual passes away or remarries. When the spouse remarries, they will receive a lump sum equal to 2 years of the weekly benefit.
Death Benefits for Surviving Children
Minor and some adult children are entitled to a portion of death benefits. Child death benefits continue until the dependent:
- Turns 18
- Turns 25 if they pursue a degree full time
- Is no longer mentally or physically incapacitated
Most surviving children’s benefits are paid to the spouse for the benefit of the spouse and the minor children. If a surviving dependent is an adult child with a disability, the benefit may be paid to a guardian.
Death Benefits for Partial Dependents
A partly dependent person can receive sixty-six and two-thirds % of the employee’s weekly wage within the minimum and maximum range, or their portion of it, for a period determined by the case administrator.
Death Benefits for Parents
A surviving natural parent or parents, who can be biological or adoptive, whom the employee was living with at the time of their death are entitled to a minimum award of $3,000.
Filing a Claim for Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Any dependent may file a claim to receive death benefits within 2 years of the employee’s death. This application must include proper documentation and prove:
- The applicant is a dependent,
- The claim is made within the statute of limitations,
- The worker has passed away, and
- The worker’s death occurred within the course or arising out of their employment.
This process sounds simple, yet it can be difficult to navigate if you have no previous experience with workers’ compensation claims. Many survivors benefit from working with a workers’ comp attorney to minimize stress and get through this process as quickly as possible.
Recovering Funeral and Medical Expenses
In addition to receiving workers’ comp death benefits, dependents can recover medical expenses for the employee’s work-related medical treatment and funeral expenses.
Dependents can specifically request:
- Funeral expenses up to $5,500
- Exceptional transportation costs for if the worker died outside of the area in which they lived
- Medical, nurse, and hospital services
The individual who paid these expenses originally, which is most likely the worker’s spouse, should apply for this reimbursement. They will need to provide documentation like receipts to prove the amounts.