The grief and trauma of losing a loved one in a work-related accident can turn your life upside down. Not only will you have to deal with the emotional struggle of living without a treasured family member, but you may also be stuck dealing with excessive financial losses you have no idea how to handle. Fortunately, North Carolina workers’ compensation laws allow for death benefits to be paid out to specific family members. 

If you lost someone you love in an on-the-job accident, an experienced death benefits lawyer at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers could help you access the financial support you need when you need it most. Contact our team for a free case evaluation today and learn more about the types of death benefits that may be available to you and how you can make the insurance company pay.

Why Choose the Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers to Take on Your Death Benefits Claim?

Our team of compassionate workers’ compensation attorneys in Greenville knows how difficult it is for any family to lose a loved one. We have witnessed the aftereffects of these tragedies firsthand. The emotional journey people must go through after such a loss is highly personal and can be consuming. 

Securing death benefits through workers’ compensation can help make up for lost income. This can be especially important when children and others have depended on a breadwinner who has been lost.

What Are Death Benefits?

Losing a loved one because of an on-the-job accident is a devastating experience on many levels. Our attorneys offer compassionate representation and fight for workers’ compensation death benefits on your behalf. These benefits can provide a degree of financial stability that can allow you to focus on the emotional needs of you and your family.

These death benefits apply to fatalities during or immediately after a workplace accident. They also apply to deaths that occur months or years down the road but are still caused by workplace illness or injury.

Types of Death Benefits in North Carolina Workers Comp Claims

The death benefits dependent surviving family members are entitled to after a fatal work injury in North Carolina are generally paid to the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and other dependents. Workers’ comp death benefits typically include:

  • Wage replacement benefits
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Complete coverage of the decedent’s medical expenses

Wage Replacement Benefits

Wage replacement benefits describe the financial support your family will receive after losing a loved one in an on-the-job accident. These benefits generally consist of approximately 2/3 of the decedent’s average weekly wages. 

Typically, these benefits can be paid out for a maximum of 500 weeks. However, this amount of time could be shortened if the surviving spouse remarries before 500 weeks have passed.

Funeral and Burial Expenses 

According to the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, the insurance company will compensate your family up to $10,000 for your loved one’s funeral and burial expenses. Remember to retain copies of your invoices, receipts, and other out-of-pocket costs so you can submit them to the insurance company with your death benefits claim.

Additionally, you might be able to recover compensation for the costs associated with transporting your loved one’s body after the work accident. However, this is a separate expense from the funeral and burial costs. This means the cost should not come from the $10,000 benefit allotment your family is entitled to. Your death benefits attorney at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers will secure written documentation so you can receive separate reimbursement for these costs.

The Decedent’s Medical Expenses 

The decedent’s workers’ compensation protection provider will be responsible for covering every medical expense related to their injuries. This might include:

  • Emergency room bills
  • Ambulance costs
  • Medication expenses
  • Diagnostic imaging fees
  • The cost of the hospital stay
  • End-of-life care

Who Is Entitled to Death Benefits from Workers Comp?

Death benefits may be available to specific types of family members under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. These parties include:

  • Persons wholly dependent on the decedent
  • The decedent’s partial dependents
  • The decedent’s next of kin

Persons Wholly Dependent on the Decedent 

Individuals who were fully financially dependent on the decedent may be entitled to death benefits. Some of these parties could include:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse
  • The decedent’s financially dependent partner, without regard to marriage
  • The decedent’s same-sex partner
  • The decedent’s minor children

Generally, minor children can continue to receive death benefits until they reach the age of 18 but will be adjusted if the child reaches the age of 18 before the 500-week limit has passed. If there are multiple children, these death benefits will be divided equally and adjust it accordingly.

Furthermore, it should be noted that only children the decedent has previously acknowledged are eligible for death benefits. If there are questions or concerns regarding whether you or someone you love was considered wholly dependent on the decedent, be sure to discuss these concerns with your death benefits attorney.

The Decedent’s Partial Dependents

If the decedent had no wholly dependent surviving family members, the decedent’s partial dependents might be entitled to death benefits. This could include nearly anyone partially dependent on the decedent before their passing. This could consist of other family members such as siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, and other family members.

The Decedent’s Next of Kin

When the decedent has no full or partial dependents, the death benefits are available to the decedent’s next of kin. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act uses the state’s intestate succession laws to identify these parties if the decedent did not leave a will. The next of kin receiving death benefits can collect these benefits in a lump sum payment without accounting for inflation rates.

If the decedent had no full or partial dependents or next of kin, the insurance company would not be obligated to pay out death benefits in a no-fault workers’ compensation claim.

Common Types of Fatal Work Accidents 

Fatal work accidents can take multiple forms. It does not matter what type of industry your family member worked in. It is possible that they could develop devastating occupational illnesses or suffer traumatic injuries at work. Some of the top work accidents known for fatalities include:

  • Construction accidents
  • Warehouse accidents
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Crushing accidents
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Factory accidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Oil field accidents
  • Railroad accidents
  • Manufacturing accidents

These are just a few examples of accidents that can potentially cause fatal injuries. If your family member was killed in another type of on-the-job accident, do not hesitate to contact a death benefits attorney in North Carolina to determine whether you qualify for the financial support you need when you need it most.

Common Reasons for Claim Denials

Do not be surprised if the insurance company attempts to deny you access to the death benefits your family deserves. Insurance companies suffer losses every time they settle death benefit claims. However, that should not be something your family has to deal with during this devastating time in your lives. 

The insurance company could argue the decedent’s employer did not have enough insurance coverage, you made a mistake on your application for benefits, or that you do not meet the eligibility requirements. Whatever the reason, your death benefits lawyer will ensure the insurance company is held accountable for their financial obligations so your family can mourn your loss without economic instability.

Other Ways to Demand Justice for the Loss of Your Loved One

It is not unusual for families to continue to struggle financially despite being awarded death benefits. Fortunately, if your loved one’s death was caused by the negligent or irresponsible actions of another, your family may have the opportunity to pursue a wrongful death claim. Here, you can ensure the individual or entity that caused your loved one’s death is brought to justice to the fullest extent of the law. 

Although you may not be able to file a claim against your loved one’s employer when collecting death benefits, if other liable parties contributed to your loved one’s death, you might be able to make them pay for their wrongful actions. Some examples of recoverable damages in North Carolina wrongful death claims include:

  • Loss of the decedent’s love and support
  • Loss of the decedent’s protection and advice
  • Loss of the decedent’s financial contributions
  • The decedent’s pain and suffering before their death
  • The decedent’s emotional trauma prior to their death
  • Loss of the decedent’s companionship, guidance, and advice

In wrongful death claims, you might also be eligible for punitive damages if the civil court system finds the defendant’s conduct to be wanton, malicious, or intentional. If they believe it is necessary to punish the defendant for their actions and want to send a message that similar conduct will not be tolerated, they may award punitive damages to your family beyond the compensatory damages your family deserves.

North Carolina Death Benefits FAQ

We understand how devastating and confusing this time in your life might be. Our death benefits attorneys at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers are here to help you get through these difficult times. 

With that in mind, we have addressed some of the most frequently asked questions regarding death benefits in North Carolina below. Any further questions you have that we did not cover here could be discussed when you contact our team for a free consultation.

What does it cost to hire a death benefits lawyer in NC?

When you have lost a treasured family member in an on-the-job accident, figuring out how you were going to afford to hire an attorney should be the least of your concern. Therefore, our death benefits lawyers never charge a retainer or require you to pay any costs in pursuing your no-fault workers’ compensation claim. 

Instead, we work for you on a contingency fee. This means your attorney’s fees will be deducted from the settlement you receive from your death benefits through the insurance company. It also means if your claim for death benefits is ultimately unsuccessful, you will not be required to pay anything for our services. This makes it a risk-free way for you to hold the insurance company accountable to their financial obligations and access the death benefit your family is entitled to.

What do you do if your claim for death benefit is denied?

It is not unusual for insurance companies to deny claims for death benefits in North Carolina. Insurance companies lose money by paying out on claims, so they will look for every opportunity to deny even the most deserving claimants. 

When your claim is denied, contact your death benefits lawyer to discuss the insurance company’s reasons for the denial. That way, your attorney can address them and hopefully get the denial or return. However, if the insurance company continues to deny you the benefits you deserve, we will be prepared to proceed with a formal appeal with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

How long do you have to file a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina?

According to the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, your family will have up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file your claim for death benefits. It is crucial to get your claim for benefits filed before this deadline. Otherwise, the insurance company could get away with denying you the benefit you would have otherwise been entitled to.

Get Help From a Death Benefits Lawyer in North Carolina Today

No amount of compensation will make up for the loss of your treasured loved one. However, when you lose someone you cared for in a work-related accident, your family may be entitled to specific workers’ compensation benefits. A respected North Carolina death benefits lawyer at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers can help you hold the insurance company accountable and access the financial support you are entitled to. 

Contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation today and learn more about the steps you must take to access the death benefits you deserve. You can reach us through our convenient contact form to get started as soon as today.