There are some complications that can arise in workers’ compensation death cases. So far, the courts have said that spouses who are committing adultery still get benefits. But if the spouse signed a separation agreement waiving all rights to support, then the spouse would not get “widow” benefits.
Disabled widows and widowers
Normally, the widow just gets 400 weeks (now 500 weeks) in wage benefits from the date of death of the worker. But if the widow or widower is disabled, then the widow or widower gets benefits for the rest of his or her lifetime unless they remarry.
In determining the eligibility for death benefits when a worker dies, North Carolina places first priority on whole dependents. Partial dependents get second priority and the Next of Kin get third priority. The North Carolina Worker’s Compensation statute excludes parents who abandon their child from being a next of kin. When there are no dependents and no next of kin, then nobody gets any of the comp benefits even if the worker left all the money in a Will to a non-relative.
Those who are considered a dependent for worker’s compensation purposes are not necessarily going to be the same as for other situations. There are separate laws for when someone dies with a will, without a will, through the wrongful death of another and through a work-related injury or illness. Do not assume that because you are a dependent for one situation that you will be a dependent for worker’s compensation death cases. And don’t assume the opposite either – meaning that if you’re not a dependent for non-work matters that you won’t be a dependent for a worker’s compensation case.
When it can be shown that the decedent’s death was related to the worker’s job injury or occupational illness, the beneficiaries are entitled to death benefits according to the following priorities, according to NCGS 97-39:
1. Persons who are wholly dependent on the deceased employee’s earnings for support at the time of the accident get the full compensation benefits in equal shares and nobody else has a claim.
The first thing the statute (North Carolina General Statutes: 97-38) looks to, when the cause of death is related to the worker’s work injury or occupational illness, is the timing of the death in relation to the injury or illness. If the timing was within six years of the date of the injury or illness or within two years of the final disability determination date (whichever is later), then the statute dictates who gets the money as follows:
Workers’ compensation death cases are generally subject to less negotiation than non-death cases, i.e. regular work injuries. This is mainly because the workers’ compensation statutes for North Carolina dictate how much money is available. Unlike non-death cases, there is no need to figure medical bills because there simply aren’t any future bills by reason of the workers’ death.
In a letter issued to the director of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) on July 10, U.S. Senate’s workplace safety subcommittee head Sen. Robert Casey scrutinized OSHA’s efforts to protect temporary workers, and asked what further actions the administration can do to increase their safety, ProPublica reported. Casey stated that he was worried about …