Workplace Fatalities and Workers’ Comp

It’s a terrible thing on many levels, but it happens.  In fact, 4,679 workers died on the job last year.  That’s almost 13 deaths every day.  Leading causes of employee death include accidents like falls and slips, falling objects, fire, transportation and violence, whether by people (such as robbers) or animals.

Most people know that workers’ comp covers medical expenses and lost wages resulting from accidents and other incidents that occur in the workplace.  But what happens if the accident results in a death?

First, the person who is claiming the benefit has to show that the incident was related to the job.  If the person who died went out on a delivery and decided to get drunk on the way, the company is probably not going to be held liable.  Suicide and intentional efforts to hurt or kill oneself are also not generally covered.

The claim should be filed within 30 days of the death via Form 18, Notice of Accident.  This needs to be done even if the employer is already aware of the death and the cause of it.  One copy needs to be sent to the employer and the other needs to go to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

From there, paperwork is done and the beneficiaries are determined.  Burial expenses up to $10,000 are paid and 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wage is paid every week for a minimum of 500 weeks.  Widows or widowers receive payments until death or remarriage and minor children receive payments until they are 18 years old, even if that’s more than 500 weeks.

As you can see, workers’ comp does a lot to help out the family of an employee in case of death.  It can mean a great deal to a family who has recently lost a loved one and give them one or two less things to worry about as they grieve and start to pick up the pieces.

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