Understanding Spouse Benefits Upon Injury Resulting In Death

In Minnesota, a surviving spouse qualifies for various types of compensation when a worker dies on the job.

Workers Compensation Death and Dependency Benefits

Minnesota’s workers compensation laws provide for payments to a surviving spouse. Spouse benefits upon injury resulting in death are important in a variety of ways. Short-term, these payments are often crucial in helping the surviving spouse to pay the bills. Long-term, surviving spouse benefits help to manage the often challenging transition to life without a loved one.

Assistance to a Grieving Spouse

In the difficult times after sustaining such an ultimate loss, the surviving spouse may encounter what many refer to as “red tape” in dealing with the law and the workers comp insurer.  A law firm focused on relevant areas of the law may be of real assistance in dealing with three different groups:

  • Employers
  • Insurance companies
  • Third parties also bearing responsibility for the loss

Workers Compensation Surviving Spouse Benefits

Specifically, a surviving spouse automatically qualifies for certain payments provided for under provisions of Minnesota’s workers compensation law. Such benefits may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Payment of medical bills related to the workplace fatality
  • Up to $15,000 for burial expenses
  • Permanent partial disability payments
  • Weekly payments, based on the worker’s average working wage (AWW)

The weekly payments are adjusted for different family situations:

  • Surviving spouse with no children – 50 percent of the employee’s AWW for 10 years, although there is a maximum cap.
  • A surviving spouse with one or more dependent children qualifies for additional amounts.
  • A surviving spouse responsible for the care of disabled dependent, whether a child or an adult, will typically qualify for additional payments.
  • If another relative living in the home was dependent on the deceased employee for support, payments may further increase.
  • In some cases, a surviving spouse will also qualify for job retraining or other educational benefits.

The different provisions for payments to surviving spouses and other dependents are addressed in Sec. 176.111 of the state’s workers compensation statutes. Typically, payments to a  surviving spouse only cease only in the event of death or re-marriage. Therefore, a decision to marry again has financial ramifications that a beneficiary should always be aware of.

Wrongful Death Claims

In some cases, a compensation for a spouse may not be limited to amounts provided for under Minnesota’s workers compensation laws. Other than the worker’s employer, if any individual, company or other entity is wholly or partially responsible for causing the worker’s death, a surviving spouse also has the right to file a wrongful death claim under provisions of the state’s personal injury statutes.

Successful wrongful death litigation may significantly increase compensation paid to a surviving spouse. Payments are often made for pain and suffering experienced by the worker before death, loss of economic support and loss of companionship. Many such wrongful death suits are settled without a trial.

At times, survivors encounter legal and insurance complexities at a transitory time when grieving makes any roadblocks particularly unwelcome. For example, on occasion a workers comp insurer will argue that a fatality was not work-related. Or, an insurer may question the eligibility of one or more dependents.

When you are a client of Chesley, Harvey and Carpenter, we are with you every step of the way, ensuring that your legal rights under all applicable laws are fully protected.

If you’ve lost a loved one in a work-related accident or from an occupational illness, it is possible to speak with an attorney about workers compensation and other possible benefits. We always provide this consultation free of charge and without obligation. To learn more about our legal services, please contact us.

Contact A Mankato Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today

Contact the law office of Chesley, Harvey & Carpenter today at (507) 625-3000 for a free case review. We are located in Mankato, Minnesota.