Michigan’s workers’ compensation law protects employers from wrongful death lawsuits in exchange for a payment of $6,000.
MLive.com published an article entitled “Why employers are rarely sued in Michigan workplace deaths.” It follows the story of a man who lost his wife in a workplace accident. The article explains how his legal options are limited and a successful lawsuit is unlikely.
We have previously blogged about survivor benefits under workers’ compensation. Families can seek limited wage loss benefits but cannot sue for negligence or pain and suffering.
The amount paid should equal 500 weeks of wage loss at the appropriate weekly rate. However, there must be at least one dependent to qualify. If no dependents exist, the only payment is $6,000 towards burial expenses. Here is a refresher on dependency and workers’ compensation.
Michigan law originally provided that a wife was a conclusive dependent entitled to receive survivors benefits if her husband died in the course of employment. This was found to be unconstitutional gender bias and neither a wife or husband are now conclusively presumed dependents. A spouse is required to prove factual dependency to get survivors benefits and will be disqualified if less than ½ of his or her support came from the decedent.
A spouse can also be found to be partially dependent. This determination is very complicated as several factors must be considered. Whether the spouse is receiving income from another source and how much the deceased worker actually contributed must be examined. This can result in a payment far less than the weekly comp rate.
Children under the age of 16 at the time of death are presumed to be wholly dependent and entitled to 500 weeks of wage loss benefits. After the expiration of 500 weeks, children may be entitled to continuing benefits until age 21.
Children over the age of 16 will have to prove factual dependency to qualify for benefits. Evidence must be presented showing how much support the deceased parent actually provided to the child.
Michigan law does permit an intentional tort exception. This would allow a wrongful death lawsuit if you can show the employer intended harm. This is an impossible burden of proof and these cases are rarely successful. Just showing that an employer had knowledge of a dangerous condition is typically not enough.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons, by frankieleon.Tags: Michigan workers comp lawyers