If you lost a loved one to a workplace accident or a work-related condition, dealing with the loss can be difficult. Especially if the deceased was the main financial provider for your family, it may be difficult to move forward without their support. Fortunately, Arkansas’ workers’ compensation system allows the families of deceased workers to receive benefits on their behalf.
If your parent, spouse, or child recently passed away, you may be able to file a workers’ comp. claim for survivors’ benefits from the Death and Permanent Total Disability Trust Fund. Talk to an attorney today about what benefits you may be entitled to, and how you can receive them. For more information and for representation on your claims, contact Fayetteville workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438.
Workers’ Comp. Survivor Benefits
If you lost a loved one, Arkansas’ workers’ compensation allows certain benefits to be paid to the surviving family members of the victim. Arkansas Code § 11-9-527 explains the main limitations on benefits you can receive.
There are two main situations where workers’ comp. benefits may be available to survivors. The first is when a loved one dies because of a workplace injury or because of a work-related condition. This includes deadly accidents and ongoing conditions, like heart conditions. The second situation includes situations where the worker was receiving workers’ compensation for another injury, but then died prematurely. In this situation, the cause of death may be unrelated to their work, but the family may still be able to receive the rest of their workers’ comp. benefits. This includes situations where your loved one was receiving benefits for permanent total disability (PTD).
Workers’ compensation usually pays continuing wages for deceased workers. This means that their family can continue to receive support, even if their loved one is no longer able to work for it. This occurs in cases of PTD as well as death. Usually, only 2/3 of the worker’s original wages are paid. There is also usually up to $6,000 available for funeral costs.
If your loved one was receiving workers’ comp. for another injury or PTD when they died, you may be able to receive whatever benefits they were already scheduled to receive, but no further benefits. That means that if your loved one was scheduled to receive 200 weeks of benefits, and dies in the 10th week, you may be able to receive the remaining 190 weeks of benefits on their behalf.
Who Can Receive Death Benefits in Arkansas?
Workers’ comp. benefits are different than other money that may transfer upon death. Unlike shared bank accounts, money distributed through a will or intestacy statute, and other property of the deceased, workers’ compensation benefits are only able to pass to certain parties. First and foremost, the survivors must be “wholly and actually dependent upon the deceased.” This means that adult children who live on their own or spouses with their own jobs may have difficulty claiming full death benefits. However, this should never limit stay-at-home spouses or minor children from receiving benefits.
If an injured worker receives benefits in their own right, they usually receive 66 2/3% of their normal weekly wage. When they die, workers’ comp. rules assign the benefits differently to different parties. In total, the following parties can receive the following benefits:
- The spouse of a deceased worker can receive 35% of the weekly wage.
- Each child can receive 15% if the deceased had a spouse.
- If the deceased was not married at the time of death, each child receives 15% and splits another 35% amongst them.
- Parents may receive 25% each.
- Dependent brothers, sisters, grandchildren, and grandparents can each receive 15%.
Since these percentages may quickly add up to more than 100%, this ranking also doubles as the priority list. This means that a widow or widower will always receive their 35% cut first, then children take priority over parents, and parents take priority over siblings and grandparents.
If a family member was not “wholly and actually dependent” on the deceased, they may receive reduced benefits. For example, if the deceased paid for their adult child’s car or their grandparents’ utility bills, they recover proportionately to their dependence. That means that if the survivor was 10% dependent on the deceased, for example, they may receive up to 10% of whatever benefits they would have received if they were wholly dependent.
Fayetteville Death Benefit Lawyer for Workers’ Compensation
If you have lost a loved one to a workplace accident, to a work-related condition, or while they were receiving workers’ compensation benefits, talk to a lawyer today. Fayetteville workers’ comp. lawyer Ken Kieklak can help you understand what workers’ comp. payments you may be able to continue to receive on their behalf to help support your family. For a free consultation on your case, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law today at (479) 316-0438.