Fortunately, fatal on-the-job injuries are relatively rare in Ohio. In the fiscal year 2017, just 155 of 97,931 claims filed with the state workers’ compensation fund involved a death. When an employee is killed at work or dies as the result of an on-the-job injury or long-term exposure, workers’ compensation provides benefits to surviving family members.
The surviving family of an injured worker who was receiving compensation at the time of his death is also entitled to accrued benefit, even if the recipient’s death was unrelated to the work injury.
Death Benefits for Surviving Dependents
Death benefits to surviving dependents are paid out by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) every two weeks. The death benefit is equal to 2/3 of the deceased workers’ wages or salary, subject to a minimum and maximum weekly amount.
The BWC allocates the available benefit among eligible dependents. Most often, that means a surviving spouse and children under the age of 18. However, older children may be eligible if they are full-time students at an accredited institution or are physically or mentally incapacitated. Other dependent family members may also be eligible, such as parents who resided with the deceased worker.
The surviving spouse is entitled to lifetime benefits unless he or she remarries. A surviving spouse who remarries while receiving benefits will receive a lump sum equal to the benefits he or she would receive over a two-year period, and then no further benefits.
The workers’ compensation death benefit may also include funeral expenses, up to a cap of $5,500.
Accrued Workers’ Compensation Benefits
While death benefits are available only to certain surviving dependents of the deceased worker, accrued benefits are already owed to the worker. Therefore, payment of accrued benefits is not dependent on there being an eligible dependent. If there are no family members eligible to receive accrued benefits directly from the BWC, then the benefits repayable to the deceased’s estate.
That means the benefits will be distributed according to the terms of the deceased’s will. If the worker died without a will and there are no eligible benefits, the benefits—like the deceased’s other assets—will be distributed by the executor of the estate according to Ohio’s intestate succession laws.
Certain third parties are also eligible to apply for payment from the deceased’s accrued benefits, including the provider that rendered funeral services or an individual who paid those costs.
The deadline for application may be either one or two years from the date of the injured worker’s death, depending on the status of the claim at the time of the workers’ death. If you were the dependent of a worker who died while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, or who was eligible for benefits at the time of his or her death, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
In the wake of the loss of a loved one, legal processes are likely the furthest thing from your mind.
When you put your workers’ compensation claim in the hands of an experienced local attorney, you can focus your energy on caring for yourself and helping your family move forward.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation