Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler

The Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation and Social Security Disability Group of Sellers, Ayers, Dortch and Lyons.

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Understanding North Carolina workers' compensation death benefits

The death of a family member from an incident connected to employment is extremely difficult for surviving family members. The purpose of workers' compensation is to at least partially alleviate such work-related loss by providing weekly compensation payments and covering burial expenses. Navigating North Carolina's Worker's Compensation Act, however, can sometimes feel like a traumatic experience in itself.

The difficulty lies at least in part in the way that the statute is written. Consider the following single sentence from the law:

"If there is no person wholly dependent, and the person or all persons partially dependent is or are within the classes of persons defined as "next of kin" in G.S. 97-40, whether or not such persons or such classes of persons are of kin to the deceased employee in equal degree, and all so elect, he or they may take, share and share alike, the commuted value of the amount provided for whole dependents in (1) above instead of the proportional payment provided for partial dependents in (2) above; provided, that the election herein provided may be exercised on behalf of any infant partial dependent by a duly qualified guardian; provided, further, that the Industrial Commission may, in its discretion, permit a parent or person standing in loco parentis to such infant to exercise such option in its behalf, the award to be payable only to a duly qualified guardian except as in this Article otherwise provided; and provided, further, that if such election is exercised by or on behalf of more than one person, then they shall take the commuted amount in equal shares."

Did you understand that? If you are having to cope with the loss of a loved one and are wondering how you are going to continue to afford to live in his or her absence, will you have the time or the inclination to parse through such language to decipher what it means?

At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we understand that our clients who have lost a breadwinner are under enough stress without having to become lawyers themselves. We not only know how to read and apply the law, we also never lose sight of your humanity. You have enough on your hands adjusting to the loss that you have suffered; let us deal with the complex and arcane legal issues that must be sorted through before your workers' compensation death benefits can issue.

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