Recently, the widow of a worker who was killed when he was struck by a
co-worker’s vehicle while at work received a $400,000 award in
death benefits from the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. The decision
to award this amount was based on the commission’s recognition that
the widow was financially dependent on her spouse, which meant that she
was entitled to two thirds of his average weekly wage for as long as she
would have been a dependent, or until she turned 70, when she would begin
to receive Social Security benefits.
There are four types of workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland:
Death benefits are available to the survivors of an employee who died due
to a work-related disability or accident.
Worker’s compensation is usually determined by using a simple formula
that is based on the worker’s average weekly wage. However, calculating
death benefits requires the additional step of determining whether the
surviving spouse or children were dependents of the deceased worker.
The Workers’ Compensation Act defines “dependent” as
someone who was receiving reasonable necessities from the deceased at
the time of the injury. The determination is not based on the time of
the death of the employee, so if a person is dependent on an employee
at the time of death, but not at the time of the injury, there is no entitlement
to death benefits.
Additionally, the deceased’s surviving spouse or children must show
that there was a reasonable expectation of continued support had the death
not occurred. Dependent individuals can include:
●Disabled adult children
Death benefits are available only if the death of the employee occurred
within seven years of the date of the accidental injury. If the death
was caused by an occupational disease, then there is no such time restriction.
If the death occurred as a result of an accidental injury, then the surviving
family members must file an application for death benefits within 18 months
of the date of death. If the death was a result of an occupational disease,
the application deadline is two years.
Calculating Death Benefits
If the surviving family members are found to be dependents, the Commission
will calculate the amount owed in death benefits based on the deceased’s
contribution to the total
family income. Once the average weekly wages of the employee and all of his or her dependents
are calculated, the family income will be divided by the deceased’s
average weekly wage, which will determine the percentage of the family
income for which the deceased was responsible. This percentage is then
multiplied by the actual average weekly wage, and the number reached will
constitute the total amount of death benefits owed to the surviving family members.
Death benefits can continue to be paid for up to 144 months from the
date of death and must be paid for a minimum of five years.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
The death of a loved one is a traumatic event and can be even more stressful
if he or she was the sole provider in your family. If your family member
was killed while at work or due to a work-related disease, you may be
entitled to death benefits through workers compensation. Please contact
the experienced Charles County, Maryland personal injury attorneys at the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro for a free consultation.