Workers' compensation benefits are intended to serve as a financial buffer to absorb part of the shock that families go through when a worker is injured on the job. In the best-case scenario, these benefits help to pay bills and medical expenses until the injured worker is well enough to return to employment. But not every incident of a workplace or work-related accident results in the injured worker returning to the job. Sometimes, the injury proves fatal.
In such a worst-case scenario, the deceased worker is often survived by family members who will still be burdened by the same costs of living, medical expenses and, now, funeral expenses that result from the fatal work accident. What can workers' compensation do for them?
The good news is that workers' compensation anticipates the ongoing needs that surviving spouses and children will have after the loss of the one they counted on to make ends meet. The following are some of the benefits available to those who qualify for survivor benefits:
- The benefit amount depends on the earnings of the deceased worker. They are equal to two- thirds of the average weekly earnings.
- The base time frame for benefit duration is 500 weeks. This is subject to variation based on specific situations under which the benefit duration may last longer. For example, if the surviving spouse suffers from a disability that existed at the time of the worker's death and it prevents him or her from being able to be self-supporting, then benefits continue until death or remarriage.
- Surviving children are eligible for benefits for 500 weeks or until they reach age 18.
- Funeral expenses of up to $10,000 are covered.
There is a two-year deadline before which a claim for death benefits must be made. An attorney familiar with North Carolina workers' compensation law can help with the claim filing procedure and answer any questions that you may have.