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What You Need to Know About Death Benefits Under Virginia Workers’ Comp Laws

Losing a loved one in a workplace accident is a horrific tragedy, which is why Virginia’s workers’ compensation laws protect surviving family members. A spouse, children, and other family members may be eligible for death benefits to provide financial support during this difficult time. Though the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission describes the basics and outlines how the system works, there are complex legal issues when it comes to qualifying, the nature of the benefits, and other details. Plus, the claims process for death benefits can be complex and overwhelming, leading to further stress. 

As such, it is wise to work with a Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer who can assist with the claims process and advise you on your options. You might also find it helpful to review some important information about death benefits in workers’ comp. 

Benefits Available for Fatal Workplace Accidents

Survivors are only eligible for death benefits if the decedent was a qualifying employee who died in a workplace accident, while performing job-related tasks. Assuming your situation meets this basic requirement, the analysis turns to two points:

  • Relationship to the Deceased Individual: There is a legal presumption that the surviving spouse is wholly dependent upon the decedent, but only if you had not abandoned the marriage. In a situation where you were living separately or had filed for divorce, you may not qualify for death benefits. In addition, the law presumes that children under 18 years old, incapacitated adult children, and student-children under age 23 are dependents. If there are no dependents in these categories, the parents of the deceased may also be eligible for death benefits.
  • Level of Dependency: If you do not qualify as being wholly dependent upon the deceased based upon the relationships described above, you may still be able to file a claim for death benefits. You will need to show that you were partially dependent upon the decedent for financial support, in the sense that the victim regularly contributed to the household.

Amounts Available for Death Benefits

Individuals who fall under #1 may qualify to receive up to two-thirds of the deceased employee’s income for a period of 500 weeks. When more than one person is eligible, the benefits will be split according to statutory formulas.

Survivors who were partially dependent can also obtain workers’ comp benefits, but the exact amount varies based upon how much the decedent contributed in terms of financial support. The calculation starts with the two-thirds income rate, which is reduced by the extent to which you relied upon the deceased. These benefits may continue for up to 400 weeks after the date of death. 

In addition, death benefits are also available to cover burial costs up to $10,000 and $1,000 in reasonable transportation costs.

Contact a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Legal Assistance

If you like additional information about how workers’ comp death benefits work in your specific situation, please call Hampton Injury Law PLC to set up a free case evaluation. Once we review your personal circumstances, we can explain the details guide you through the claims process.

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