Charlotte, North Carolina, has a workers’ compensation system. The law requires employers to get workers’ comp insurance for their employees. Consequently, if a worker suffers a job-related accident, the insurance protects them. Therefore, such insurance would cover their medical and other bills. Unfortunately, though, Charlotte employees sometimes die from work accidents.
When they do, the law doesn’t abandon their family. Instead, their surviving relatives can recover death benefits from the deceased’s employer. So, if you’ve lost a loved one from a work accident, it would be best to hire a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced lawyer would know whether you’re eligible to receive any death benefits.
Qualification for Death Benefits
Not all work-related deaths are compensable in Charlotte. Firstly, the relevant death must have occurred within:
- Six years after the compensable injury or occupational disease, or
- Two years from the final determination of disability covered under worker’s comp
Here, it’s the later timeline that applies to cases. Furthermore, the potential beneficiaries must show that the death was from an accident injury or occupational disease covered initially by NC workers’ comp.
Notably, the injury or disease mustn’t be the only cause of death. Instead, it’s sufficient that they significantly contributed to the death. Furthermore, it could also be that the injury or disease merely worsened a pre-existing condition.
The Pickrell Presumption
The Pickrell presumption works to make compensable deaths that aren’t clearly from work injuries or illnesses. It applies where the cause of death is unknown, and the accident circumstances are unexplained. In these cases, if the death occurred in the course of employment, the law would link the death to the deceased’s job.
After a work-related death, the relevant party or parties must inform the employer of such death. Here, this notification requirement exists even when the employer already knows about the demise. Parties that can report the death include the deceased’s estate, family, or next of kin. Any of these parties must notify the employer within thirty days of the demise.
Furthermore, they can report the accident by filing a Form 18 Notice of Accident with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. After this, they must then send a copy of the Form to the decedent’s employer. Importantly, if you don’t file this form within two years of death, the law forever bars the death benefits claim.
Who Are the Beneficiaries?
NC law on death benefits beneficiaries is slightly complicated. However, the following persons are eligible to claim death benefits.
People wholly dependent on the deceased will share the death benefits equally. If it’s only one person, they get everything.
People partially dependent have the right to weekly compensation payments. However, these weekly payments must be proportionate to the annual financial support the deceased gave the dependent.
Next of Kin
Where there are no whole dependents or the partial dependents qualify as “next of kin,” everything changes. Now, the next of kin can elect to receive a lump-sum payment of the death benefits.
Notably, North Carolina workers’ comp law strictly restricts the definition of “next of kin.” This class includes only the child, parents, or siblings of the deceased’s employee. However, the law excludes parents that wilfully abandoned the decedent. Finally, if none of the above classes exist, the employer pays only burial expenses.
How Much Are Charlotte Workers’ Comp Death Benefits?
Like other workers’ comp benefits, the employer will pay death benefits weekly. In addition, such compensation would equal sixty-six percent or two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly wages (AWW). The law calculates the AWW from the amount the decedent was earning at their accident date. Furthermore, the business owner will pay these benefits for a minimum of 500 weeks.
However, minor children will receive death benefits until they attain majority. Here, it’s inconsequential that the time frame exceeds 500 weeks. A deceased’s widow or widower can also receive death benefits until their death or remarriage. However, this timeline mustn’t be less than 500 weeks. Finally, the beneficiaries can also receive burial expenses not exceeding ten thousand dollars.
Charlotte Workers’ Comp Lawyers Can Get You Death Benefits
Have you lost a relative to Charlotte workplace accidents? If you have, then you can receive compensation for their death. However, such payment isn’t automatic. Instead, you must fulfill some legal obligations to receive the benefits. That’s why it’s best to hire a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney.
At Waple & Houk, our lawyers have spent their lives helping injured Charlotte workers. In addition, we’ve represented the families of dead employees. So, we have all the experience and expertise to get you the maximum death benefits. So, if you call us today, we can immediately start working on your claim.