Woman mourning and looking at photograph

There are few things more heartbreaking than having your loved one leave for a normal day of work and getting a call that they won’t be coming home. While it is undeniably a painful and life-changing tragedy, your own life moves forward and bills continue to pile up. When you lose a loved one in a workplace accident, it’s critical to know your options, rights, and next steps.

Guiding You Through a Difficult Time

When you’re grieving, worrying about insurance and covering expenses should be the last thing on your mind. For that reason, we recommend that the spouse and children of those who died in the workplace hire a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as they are comfortable doing so.

An attorney on your side can help you plan a way forward, handling all the difficult phone calls, paperwork, and legal concerns that come with pursuing justice for your loved one. It’s normal to be unprepared to deal with the sudden loss of a loved one, both emotionally and financially but as bills pile up, it’s important to exercise your rights and claim the full benefits you are entitled to.

Death Benefits Explained

First, death benefits can help cover the cost of funeral arrangements. The average funeral in the U.S. costs around $8,000 and death benefits can help cover the cost in addition to recovering lost wages.

With a successful death benefits claim through workers’ compensation, the deceased’s immediate family (spouse and children) can recover up to 75% of their normal wage each week. This amount is typically divided among the family members, not necessarily equally but as equitably as possible. If, for example, the deceased has an adult child with disabilities, they might receive more of their parent’s weekly wage than their spouse who works full time. This is meant to help family members get the support they need to maintain financial independence.


The length of income benefits varies depending on who is receiving income benefits. For a surviving spouse, they are entitled to receive 50% of the average weekly wage the decease was making until age 70 or upon remarriage. Even after remarrying, the surviving spouse is still entitled to two (2) years of income benefits in a lump sum.

For surviving dependent children, the surviving spouse is entitled to 45% of the average weekly wage, and each dependent child is entitled to 15% of such wage. Dependent children’s income benefits terminate upon reaching the age of 18.

There are additional classes of persons who may be entitled to income benefits from the deceased if there is no surviving spouse or dependent children. There are also caps on how much benefits surviving family members can receive.

Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney will ensure that you or the deceased surviving family members are getting the benefits they deserve.

Direct Result

Crucially, family members aren’t just eligible for death benefits if their loved one dies on the day of a workplace accident. If your loved one passed away from complications directly related to their workplace injury within four years of the accident, you are entitled to the same funeral arrangements and death benefits afforded in other circumstances.

Planning for the Worst

If you or a loved one works in a potentially dangerous occupation, such as a factory or the oil industry, you can take steps today to prepare your family for the future. As death benefits only last a few years, it is wise to invest in a life insurance program and have a will written to ensure that your assets are correctly distributed and that your family will be cared for in the event of a catastrophe.

While we hope nobody loses a loved one in a workplace accident, the fact is that accidents happen. When they do, you need a dedicated team to stand beside you and help you plan your next steps.

If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Kentucky workers’ comp attorney who will work tirelessly on your behalf, don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (270) 423-0023.

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