Michigan lawyer discusses survivors benefits under workers’ comp and potential third-party lawsuit for wrongful death.
Workplace accidents happen every day. Some occupations are inherently more dangerous than others. OSHA has said about one in five worker deaths were in construction. The leading causes were falls, electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between. Here is some information about a workers’ comp death claim and wrongful death lawsuit.
Michigan workplace accident law protects employees hurt on-the-job. It pays for medical treatment including ambulance charges, ER visits, hospital stays, medications, therapy, and surgery. There should never be any copayments or deductibles owed for covered items. Medical care is a lifetime benefit.
Wage loss benefits are also compensated. These should equal 80% of an employee’s after-tax average weekly wage subject to a state-wide maximum. This is calculated using the highest 39 paid weeks during the 52 weeks before the accident. Overtime, discontinued fringe benefits, and second jobs should be included. Wage loss benefits continue for the entire length of disability.
Workplace accident benefits are paid regardless of employee fault. It does not matter how the accident happened so long as it occurred in the course and scope of employment. In exchange for these automatic payments, employers get immunity from civil lawsuits. Therefore, it is known as the “exclusive remedy” even in a workers’ comp wrongful death situation.
Workers’ Comp Death Benefits
The most difficult cases we handle involve workers’ comp death benefits for wrongful death claims. Family members can receive up to 500 weeks of wage loss benefits at the employee’s weekly rate. There is also a $6,000 burial expense that should be paid. All medical expenses incurred before death should be covered.
Children under the age of 16 are presumed wholly dependent and automatically entitled to wage loss benefits. It is possible to seek additional wage loss benefits until the child reaches age 21 under specific circumstances.
A spouse must prove factual dependency to receive 500 weeks of lost wages. A husband or wife can be found “totally” or “partially” dependent. If only partially dependent, the weekly comp rate will be reduced based upon household contribution. If it is determined that a spouse received less than half support from the employee, wage loss benefits are often disputed.
Family members who are entitled to survivors benefits and who are totally dependent must share equally. Family members who are only partially dependent share in proportion to their relative dependency. The minimum death benefit is equal to 50% of the state average weekly wage in the year of injury.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Family members can also file a wrongful death lawsuit in addition to getting workers’ comp benefits. It must be against a “third-party” who was responsible for the workplace accident. This is common when there is a negligent driver who caused a motor vehicle accident. Sometimes a manufacturer of a machine or tool can be held liable if it was defective. Watch out for situations where third-party contractors were negligent on construction sites.
Damages for a wrongful death lawsuit include pain and suffering. These are often much greater than anything paid under workers’ comp. The employer/insurance company who paid workers’ comp benefits will have a lien on any wrongful death lawsuit recovery. This is very common.
It is very important to hire an experienced attorney. Do not let the insurance company unfairly reduce what needs to be paid. Do not let the insurance company take more than it is entitled from a third-party lawsuit.
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 (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.