Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

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The Kentucky workers’ compensation system pays benefits to injured workers. But what happens if the worker dies from the injury? Is compensation available? If you are a family member of a deceased worker who would have been eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries had he not died from them, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits.

Who is Eligible?

The following family members are qualified to receive death benefits, unless it is proven that they were not financial dependents of the victim:

  • The victim’s spouse;
  • children under 18 who live with the victim’s spouse;
  • children under 22 who are registered at an accredited educational institution, and
  • children over 18 who are physically or mentally incapable of supporting themselves.

The following family members can be qualified to receive death benefits if they prove that they were financially dependent on the victim:

  • parents;
  • siblings;
  • grandparents;
  • grandchildren; and
  • adult children of the victim who are over 22, or between 18 and 22 but are not enrolled in an accredited higher educational institution,.

The difference between the legal positions of the foregoing groups of people is the burden of proof, which often decides cases — the first group does not have the burden of proving their financial dependence on the victim, while the second group does.

How Much Will I Receive?

In general, death benefits for all eligible dependents cannot exceed 75 percent of the victim’s average weekly wage. Additionally, the minimum (as of 2018) is nearly $170 while the maximum is nearly $850. Whatever the amount is, it is divided among eligible relatives on an unequal basis — the spouse, if living, is favored, for example, while children of the victim receive the most money if there is no surviving spouse.

When Benefits End

Spouses stop receiving benefits when they remarry, but they receive a lump-sum payment equal to two years of benefits. Children stop receiving benefits when they turn 18, get married or (in the case of adult children) graduate from the educational institution they attended or regain the capacity to support themselves.

Parents, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings receive benefits until they die, marry or regain the ability to support themselves. Siblings and grandchildren also stop receiving benefits when they turn 18, as long as they are capable of supporting themselves..

What About Funeral and Burial Expenses?

A lump sum will be provided for funeral and burial expenses if the victim died within four years of the injury. In 2018 that amount exceeded $80,000, and it typically increases every year.

How Do I File a Claim?

Notify the employer as soon as possible after the victim’s death, and file a written claim with the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims within two years of the victim’s death.

Act Now to Preserve the Value of Your Claim

Total death benefits tend to be much larger than average workers’ compensation benefits — which means that the insurance company is likely to fight that much harder to deny or minimize the value of your claim. And that is precisely why you need a lawyer to press your claim on your behalf.

Contact Kentucky workers’ compensation lawyer Glenn Martin Hammond at (606) 437-7777, or fill out our online contact form, to schedule a free consultation where we can listen to your story and advise you of your options. And remember — there is no cost to you unless we win your claim.

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