Death Benefits

When a Wisconsin Worker Dies on the Job, Worker’s Compensation Death Benefits Provide Financial Assistance to Surviving Loved Ones

Death Benefits Help a Worker’s Family in the Toughest Times

Some work injuries lead to the worst possible outcome – death. If a work-related accident or occupational disease causes death for a Wisconsin worker, or if a worker dies while entitled to Wisconsin worker’s compensation benefits for permanent and total disability, the law provides for the payment of benefits to certain family members. These worker’s compensation benefits include up to four years of the deceased worker’s salary (maximum of $267,600 as of 2020) and funeral expenses. Nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one; however, these modest benefits provide some measure of financial assistance.

The requirements to show a death benefits claim is compensable are essentially the same as those for a non-fatal injury claim. Namely, that:

  • an employment relationship existed
  • the employee was injured in the course of his employment
  • and the injury arose out of the employment

Like all Wisconsin worker’s compensation benefits, death benefits are strictly laid out by statute.

Funeral Expenses

Any time a work injury causes death of a Wisconsin worker, the worker’s compensation insurance company has to pay burial expenses, currently up to $10,000.

Death Benefits

In certain circumstances, death benefits may be due to the deceased worker’s “dependents.” The maximum amount of the death benefit is four times the average annual earnings of the worker. The questions regarding who will get the benefits and how much the benefits will be can be complicated. The Wisconsin worker’s compensation statute provides the rules for who may be entitled to death benefits and who has the priority for receiving death benefits. There are dependents who are presumed to be dependent by statute, while other family members must show that they are “dependent in fact.”

Death Benefits for Spouses, Domestic Partners & Children

In determining who is eligible for receiving worker’s compensation death benefits, spouses, domestic partners, and children under the age of 18 are given priority. These are the so-called “statutory dependents.” If a spouse or domestic partner is entitled to the full death benefit, the children under the age of 18 may be entitled to additional benefits.

Death Benefits for Other Family Members Who Were Totally Dependent on the Worker

If the death benefits are not due to a spouse, domestic partner, or children under the age of 18, then other family members may be eligible for death benefits, for example, an uncle, aunt, sibling, or adult children. These family members must show that they were in fact totally dependent on the deceased worker (instead of being presumed by statute to be dependent). A person making this type of claim will likely need attorney representation.

Death Benefits for Parents

If no family members were totally dependent upon the deceased worker, the worker’s parents may still obtain benefits. If the deceased worker contributed more than $500 to the parents in the year before his or her death, then his or her parents may receive up to four times the amount the worker contributed to the parents, or one-half of the normal death benefit, whichever is greater. Those parents who received less than $500 of support from the deceased worker in the year prior to his death remain eligible for a $6,500 death benefit, assuming that the parents were not “estranged” from the deceased worker. Again, parents claiming worker’s compensation death benefits for the work-related death of an adult child may need attorney representation.

Death Benefits for Other Family Members Who Were Partially Dependent

If no one was totally dependent upon the deceased worker, and there are no surviving parents, other relatives may be able to prove partial dependency and obtain death benefits. The amount of death benefits for those partially dependent on the worker are calculated by determining the amount of financial aid the dependent might reasonably have anticipated to receive from the deceased worker, but for the injury causing death.

Contact Us

If your loved one has died as a result of work injury or died while eligible for permanent and total disability benefits, contact the worker’s compensation attorneys at Hawks Quindel, S.C. to discuss whether you are eligible for death benefits. Please call a Madison worker’s compensation attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee worker’s compensation attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

Death Benefits Help a Worker’s Family in the Toughest Times

Some work injuries lead to the worst possible outcome – death. If a work-related accident or occupational disease causes death for a Wisconsin worker, or if a worker dies while entitled to Wisconsin worker’s compensation benefits for permanent and total disability, the law provides for the payment of benefits to certain family members. These worker’s compensation benefits include up to four years of the deceased worker’s salary (maximum of $267,600 as of 2020) and funeral expenses. Nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one; however, these modest benefits provide some measure of financial assistance.

The requirements to show a death benefits claim is compensable are essentially the same as those for a non-fatal injury claim. Namely, that:

  • an employment relationship existed
  • the employee was injured in the course of his employment
  • and the injury arose out of the employment

Like all Wisconsin worker’s compensation benefits, death benefits are strictly laid out by statute.

Funeral Expenses

Any time a work injury causes death of a Wisconsin worker, the worker’s compensation insurance company has to pay burial expenses, currently up to $10,000.

Death Benefits

In certain circumstances, death benefits may be due to the deceased worker’s “dependents.” The maximum amount of the death benefit is four times the average annual earnings of the worker. The questions regarding who will get the benefits and how much the benefits will be can be complicated. The Wisconsin worker’s compensation statute provides the rules for who may be entitled to death benefits and who has the priority for receiving death benefits. There are dependents who are presumed to be dependent by statute, while other family members must show that they are “dependent in fact.”

Death Benefits for Spouses, Domestic Partners & Children

In determining who is eligible for receiving worker’s compensation death benefits, spouses, domestic partners, and children under the age of 18 are given priority. These are the so-called “statutory dependents.” If a spouse or domestic partner is entitled to the full death benefit, the children under the age of 18 may be entitled to additional benefits.

Death Benefits for Other Family Members Who Were Totally Dependent on the Worker

If the death benefits are not due to a spouse, domestic partner, or children under the age of 18, then other family members may be eligible for death benefits, for example, an uncle, aunt, sibling, or adult children. These family members must show that they were in fact totally dependent on the deceased worker (instead of being presumed by statute to be dependent). A person making this type of claim will likely need attorney representation.

Death Benefits for Parents

If no family members were totally dependent upon the deceased worker, the worker’s parents may still obtain benefits. If the deceased worker contributed more than $500 to the parents in the year before his or her death, then his or her parents may receive up to four times the amount the worker contributed to the parents, or one-half of the normal death benefit, whichever is greater. Those parents who received less than $500 of support from the deceased worker in the year prior to his death remain eligible for a $6,500 death benefit, assuming that the parents were not “estranged” from the deceased worker. Again, parents claiming worker’s compensation death benefits for the work-related death of an adult child may need attorney representation.

Death Benefits for Other Family Members Who Were Partially Dependent

If no one was totally dependent upon the deceased worker, and there are no surviving parents, other relatives may be able to prove partial dependency and obtain death benefits. The amount of death benefits for those partially dependent on the worker are calculated by determining the amount of financial aid the dependent might reasonably have anticipated to receive from the deceased worker, but for the injury causing death.

Contact Us

If your loved one has died as a result of work injury or died while eligible for permanent and total disability benefits, contact the worker’s compensation attorneys at Hawks Quindel, S.C. to discuss whether you are eligible for death benefits. Please call a Madison worker’s compensation attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee worker’s compensation attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

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