Each year in the state of South Carolina, there are around 100 fatalities that occur in the workplace. However, the agency providing these figures, the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration (SCOSHA), has no way of knowing how many more individuals die as a result of injuries received at work or diseases caught in the workplace.
That means that every year, there are at least 100 grieving families across the state. These families are deprived of a family breadwinner and are also obliged to pay for funeral expenses and other bills.
Workers’ compensation death benefits can help to defray these costs, provided that you have a dedicated attorney on your side, fighting for the compensation you are entitled to. If your loved one died as a result of working on the job, the Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney team will stand beside you, even if the fight goes to court. A Charleston workers’ comp lawyer at our firm will do everything possible to secure the proper reimbursement for you and your family.
About Workers’ Comp Death Benefits in South Carolina
Workmen’s compensation death benefits are described in the South Carolina Code of Laws § 42-9-290. This law states that when a worker dies as a result of work injuries, the company is obliged to pay death benefits to those who were financially dependent on the worker. The law is intended to ensure that dependents are properly cared for, in the case of surviving children, up to the age of 21.
While there are numerous details that can affect the exact amount paid to dependents, it will be at least $75 per week, as long as this does not exceed the average weekly earnings of the deceased person. The duration of payments will be no more than 500 weeks, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a physically or mentally disabled dependent.
Who Can Receive the Death Benefit in South Carolina?
The people who receive the death benefits in a workers’ compensation case must be either partially or totally dependent on the worker for their financial survival. This is not necessarily the same as being married or related to the deceased worker — for instance, a live-in partner who is not married to the deceased but was still financially dependent on them, would be entitled to compensation.
Here are the legal criteria for being wholly dependent on the worker:
- Spouse of the deceased worker
- Minor child of the deceased worker
- Adult child of the deceased who is mentally incompetent or physically incapable of supporting themselves
- Adult child less than 23 years old who is enrolled at an accredited educational institution.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay for a Death on the Job?
When there is a death on the job, workmen’s compensation will be paid out at a rate of 66.66% of the worker’s average weekly wages, for a period not to exceed 500 weeks. If an adult child is deemed mentally incompetent or physically unable to support themselves, this period could be extended indefinitely.
Things can become complicated when children are either adopted, are step-children, or are illegitimate children, but if it can be demonstrated that they were financially dependent on the deceased, they will receive compensation.
How to File for Compensation
Filing for compensation begins with completing a Form 52 document that outlines the details associated with the death of an employee on the job. This document must be filled out accurately and completely, then submitted to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
All claims must be submitted within two years of the worker’s death, unless they were disabled and eventually died as a result of their injuries sometime later. In this case, the claim must be submitted within six years of the original injury at the workplace.
Appealing a Death Benefit Claim Denial
There are several grounds that an employer may feel are appropriate for denying the claim of a worker’s dependents. If your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision by filling out the appropriate paperwork with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, and providing proof to substantiate your reasons for contesting the denial.
In order to receive proper compensation for a death at work, it is always best to have an experienced attorney at your side, guiding you through the process and advocating for you when necessary.
If you need help in filing your initial claim for workers’ death compensation, or if your original claim has been denied, you should retain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable firm like Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney of Charleston, SC. We have assisted clients in numerous cases like this, and our ability to wade through all the details of workers’ compensation cases has saved the day for many clients.
Don’t let yourself be further hurt when a loved one has died as a result of workplace injuries — let us help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us to begin.
Workplace Death Benefit FAQs
What kind of benefits are available in cases of workplace death?
In cases of workplace death, the employer must pay the funeral expenses. Additionally, the financial dependents of the worker will receive a certain amount of compensation. The exact amount will depend on how many dependents there are, and the weekly earnings of the deceased.
Are there situations where a compensation claim would be denied?
Some causes for denial would be if the employee inflicted injuries on themselves, the employer can prove the worker was not on the job when the accident occurred, the employee died during commission of a major crime, or the employer can prove the worker was an independent contractor and not a legitimate employee.
When do death benefits begin to get paid?
If the worker was already receiving compensation payments before they died, the payments to dependents will begin from that point forward. Unless an exception applies, payments will terminate after 500 weeks.