Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits For Occupational Diseases


Posted by: Chris

Many workers are exposed to hazardous substances or conditions that cause serious illnesses. For example, firefighters can develop a rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma as a result of prolonged exposure to asbestos. 

Sadly, many occupational diseases are fatal. If your loved one’s death was caused by an occupational disease, it’s important to understand your right to workers’ compensation death benefits. 

Who Can Receive Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?

If a worker dies as a result of an occupational disease, his surviving spouse and children are eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits.

Which Employer is Liable For A Fatal Occupational Disease?

Surviving family members cannot file a workers’ compensation claim until they determine which of the victim’s employers is liable for the fatal occupational disease. To determine liability, you must figure out when the victim was last exposed to the hazard that caused his occupational disease. The victim’s employer on this date of the last exposure—along with the company that provided the employer with insurance on this date—is liable.  

How Death Benefits For Occupational Diseases Are Calculated

The liable employer must compensate the surviving family members for up to $10,000 in funeral expenses. If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse will receive a lump sum payment of $100,000. In addition, the spouse will receive weekly payments that equal the lesser of either 70% of the victim’s average weekly wage or 70% of the state’s average weekly wage.

The victim’s children are entitled to death benefits as well. Each child is entitled to a lump sum payment of $25,000. If there is a surviving spouse and children, the children are also entitled to weekly payments that equal the lesser of 15% of the victim’s average weekly wage or 15% of the state’s average weekly wage. However, if there is no surviving spouse, the children’s weekly payment increases to 50% of the victim’s average weekly wage or the state’s average weekly wage.

The rules are different if there is a surviving spouse and more than two children. In this case, each of the victim’s children will receive an equal share of a $50,000 lump sum payment. Each of these children will also receive weekly payments equal to 30% of the victim’s average weekly wage. 

These benefits cannot make up for the loss of your loved one, but they can ensure you are financially secure in the event your loved one’s death is caused by an occupational disease. 

If your loved one has suffered a fatal work injury, contact the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. Focus on mourning the loss of your loved one while we fight to obtain workers’ compensation death benefits for your family. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.