Today, we follow up on our last post, North Carolina’s Most Dangerous Jobs, with a more somber subject: Death Benefits in NC Workers’ Compensation. The death of a loved one is always a painful matter but this pain can be devastating when your loved one was taken from you while simply trying to make a living.
NC Workers’ Compensation benefits are available to workers who have been injured during the course of their employment. If a worker is injured and dies during the course of their employment death benefits are paid to the worker’s surviving spouse, children, or next of kin. It is important to note that death benefits in NC Workers’ Compensation is separate and distinct from the claim belonging to the injured worker.
Like a regular North Carolina Workers’ Compensation case, the employer must be notified within 30 days of the death in writing. In addition, the death benefits claim must be filed with the NC Industrial Commission (NCIC) within two years of the death of the injured worker. The death must occur as a direct result of a work injury or occupational disease within six years of the accident, or within 2 years after a final disability determination is made, whichever is later.
The employer also has responsibilities under the statute. Within 45 days of being notified of the death, the employer must file Form 19 and Form 29 with the North Carolina Industrial Commission identifying the beneficiaries of the deceased worker. If there is a question as to who qualifies as a beneficiary, a hearing in front of the NCIC will be needed.
If the claim is accepted by the employer, Form 30, Agreement for Compensation for Death, is filed with the NCIC and the beneficiary is paid 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wage for a period of 500 weeks. This 500-week period can be extended for minor children until they turn eighteen years old and surviving spouses that are disabled at the time of the worker’s death. When the beneficiary is a non-resident of the United States or Canada, compensation is limited to only the surviving spouse, surviving children, or the surviving parents. Burial benefits are capped at $10,000.
If the claim is not accepted by the employer, a hearing in front of the NCIC is needed. The employer or the Industrial Commission may request an autopsy of the injured worker. Before the autopsy can be performed, there must be notice given to the surviving family or next of kin, so that they may have a witness present during the examination. It is very important to understand that a refusal to allow an autopsy to be done results in a total bar on death benefits.
Grieving the loss of a loved one is never easy. When that loss comes from a workplace accident or occupational disease, it can be that much harder. You need an attorney that is compassionate and sympathetic to your grief, while providing you with legal experience and advice to help guide you through a NC Worker’s Compensation death benefits claim.
If you find yourself injured at work or if you’ve lost a loved one from a workplace injury or disease, you should call a NC workers’ compensation attorney. The Bishop Law Firm represents injured workers and their families in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, Roanoke Rapids, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Wilson, North Carolina and surrounding areas. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.