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Workers' compensation protects the families of deceased workers

Most people who work a full-time job do so to support themselves and their loved ones. People dedicate a significant amount of their lives to their occupations, often more than the standard 40 hours a week.

People become so accustomed to their daily work routine that they can get complacent or desensitized to the dangers presented by their work environments. Unfortunately, dangers at work impact not just workers, but everyone who depends on those people.

Even those in the most dangerous jobs may not fully consider the potential risk to their families that going to work every day generates. Though workers may have a life insurance policy, the coverage may not adequately offset the financial impact of losing a wage-earner on the household. In some cases, it barely covers the expense of a funeral.

The good news for families in North Carolina is that workers' compensation does offer death benefits for the surviving family members of workers who died on the job. For employees, that coverage provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their families will be provided for regardless of what happens. For family members, that coverage can make it easier to survive in the wake of a tragic loss.

Death benefits include funeral coverage and wage replacement

Every workers' compensation case is unique, as it looks at both the source of the injury or death and the income of the person involved. The state will pay replacement wages and cover up to $10,000 in burial and funeral expenses. In North Carolina, state law limits the wage replacement compensation that surviving dependents of workers who die on the job can receive.

The maximum benefit is typically two-thirds of the worker's weekly paycheck, up to a state maximum that is occasionally adjusted for inflation. The dependents of a deceased worker can continue to receive those benefits until either the dependent spouse remarries or the minor children reach the age of majority. If the spouse never remarries, he or she may continue to receive those benefits for up to 500 weeks.

Five-hundred weeks, which is just under 10 years, is the maximum length of time an adult can receive the death benefit, although minors are not restricted in the same way if there are more than 500 weeks before their 18th birthday.

Workers' compensation protects workers and their families

Ideally, no one would die on the job in North Carolina. Tragically, however, it happens. If a workplace fatality impacts your family, you should look into your right to file for workers' compensation. Make sure you do so in a timely manner, as you have to seek benefits within six years of the date of death.

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