Lost an Employee? Four Things You Need to Know About Worker's Compensation and the Death of an Employee

If one of your employees has died due to an injury at work, their family members may be entitled to compensation through your worker's compensation insurance plan. As an employer, you are obligated to take certain steps regarding this issue, and you may want to give the family some guidance on what they need to do.

The exact process varies from state to state and from insurer to insurer. However, there are some key similarities. Here's what you need to know.

1. You Have to Lodge a Claim

Whether you're dealing with a general injury or a death, worker's compensation payouts are not automatic. You have to submit a claim. In most cases, this is a two-part form or two different forms. You fill out one part, and the employer's family or representative fills out the other form.

2. Not All Family Members Qualify

The family of your deceased worker may not automatically qualify for a compensation payout. These payouts are designed to protect dependents. To that end, if the employee had children who relied on him or her for support, those children may qualify for worker's comp death benefits. However, spouses don't always qualify. Typically, spouses only qualify if they were dependent on the deceased person.

3. There Are Different Worker's Comp Payments for Death

Depending on your policy, there are usually different types of payments, and the family may only qualify for some of them. For instance, they may qualify for a lump sum payment to cover funeral costs and the deceased person's medical bills. However, they may not qualify for ongoing payments unless they meet the dependent criteria mentioned above.

3. Worker's Comp Death Benefits Are Not the Same as Social Security Survivor Benefits

As an employer, it can be hard to deal with the grieving family, especially if you are grieving for the lost worker as well. However, it can help if you are armed with some information that may help to make the situation easier on them. To that end, you may want to remind the family to apply for Social Security death benefits.

Survivor's benefits through the Social Security Administration are not the same as worker's comp benefits for death. The family can often receive Social Security survivor's benefits on top of worker's comp payments.The potential benefits include rent assistance, a telephone allowance, utilities allowance, and a variety of other payments. In most cases, these programs are means tested.

4. You Need to Complete the Process Quickly

As an employer, you need to file a claim with your worker's comp policy if one of your employees dies, but you also have to notify WorkSafe or the relevant organisation in your state. In Victoria, for example, you must submit a form to WorkSafe within 48 hours.

Hopefully, these tips can help you through the harrowing experience of having an employee die whilst working for you. Your insurance agent or a WorkSafe rep can answer any additional questions you might have.