Surviving family members may qualify for workers' compensation death benefits if their loved one died in a work accident. Every year in Iowa, employees fall ill and are injured on the job. Sadly, there are also many cases in which the illness or injuries are severe enough to cause the death of a worker. In 2014, there were 90 fatal work injuries in Iowa, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These deaths were the result of a wide range of accidents, including falls, transportation incidents, and contact with equipment. While the majority of these accidents occurred in the agricultural, forestry, and construction industries, there are no completely safe occupations, and deadly illnesses and injuries can occur in every line of work. For the families of these workers, the loss of their loved one can be devastating, both personally and financially. Fortunately, though, the Iowa workers’ compensation system does offer death benefits for surviving family members to help ease the financial burden.
What Are Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?
The workers’ compensation system exists to offer medical care and wage replacement to employees who suffer on the job injuries. These benefits are available to employees regardless of who was at fault for the accident and cover a variety of injuries, including death. Death benefits are paid to surviving family members to cover burial expenses and to continue the stream of income that was being earned by the deceased. These benefits are paid to family members for various amounts of time, depending on each unique situation.
Who Qualifies to Receive Iowa Death Benefits Workers' Compensation?
In Iowa, death benefits are typically paid only to a surviving spouse and dependent children, including stepchildren if they were being supported by the deceased. In rare situations, exceptions can be made for other family members who lived with the deceased and could be considered dependent upon him.
How Long Can Family Members Continue to Receive Death Benefits?
The aim of the workers’ compensation system is to ease any undue financial hardship an injured employee or his family may experience when an injury prevents that person from working and earning income. Death benefits are no different. These benefits can be paid for many years, depending on the family situation. The compensation can offered to:
A surviving spouse. Benefits last for life or until re-marriage. At the time of remarriage, the surviving spouse can receive payments for two more years if there are no dependent children.
Children under 18. Benefits extend until the 18th birthday.
Children under 25. If a dependent child is enrolled in a higher education institution as a full-time student, benefits can be received until the 25th birthday.
Children over 25. Benefits can be awarded for life if a dependent child is physically or mentally incapacitated at the time of the employee’s death.
Additionally, it can be possible for parents to receive death benefits for a minor child who dies of a work-related injury, if the parents were dependent upon the child’s income. Every situation is different, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and how your family may fit into the system.
How Much Are Iowa Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?
The amount of compensation offered to surviving family members depends on the earnings of the deceased employee, the number of dependents, and the dependent status. In general, the compensation is 80 percent of the employee’s weekly earnings for those considered fully dependent. In some situations, dependents are considered only partially dependent, and the benefits could be reduced proportionally to their dependency. Additionally, workers’ compensation benefits can cover any medical expenses incurred by the employee before his death, as well as burial expenses up to $7,500.
More Information About Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits for Survivors
At the Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., our experienced workers' compensation attorneys understand how difficult and devastating losing a loved one can be. Our dedicated legal team wants to help your family focus on what really matters without having to deal with the legal consequences and financial stress that can accompany the loss. If your loved one died as a result of an illness or injury sustained on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits, and we can help you obtain them. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more.