Louisiana Workers Compensation Death Benefits
Losing a loved one is always incredibly painful, especially if it’s an unexpected loss. If your loved one has passed away because of a workplace injury, we’re incredibly sorry for your loss, and we want you to know that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits.
Workers’ compensation is traditionally reserved for employees who were injured on the job so that they can receive money for recovery or lost wages, but if your family member lost their life, you can receive their workers’ compensation to pay for funeral arrangements and other expenses. No amount of money can make up for the death of a loved one, but death benefits can help you remain financially secure as your family grieves and heals.
Here at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, we assist individuals and families in receiving the workers’ compensation death benefits they deserve. In addition to providing expert legal guidance for grieving families, we also want to keep you informed about the specific workers’ compensation death benefits available in Louisiana.
Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
In 2019, 119 people in Louisiana lost their lives due to a workplace injury. Some of the tragic incidents that involved occupational fatalities included transportation incidents, exposure to harmful substances and environments, and slips and falls. If you live in Louisiana and lost a loved one due to workplace injury, you need to be aware of what qualifies you for death benefits and the amount you can receive.
How Do You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Louisiana?
To qualify for Louisiana workers compensation death benefits, you need to be a close family member with the deceased. Close family members are considered dependents so that they receive workers compensation death benefits. Some of the qualifying factors that determine you to be a dependent close family member include:
- If you’re a spouse who lived with the deceased
- If they were your parent, and you’re under the age of 18
- If you’re a child of the deceased, and you have disabilities that restrict you from making a living wage
- If you’re a child of the deceased under the age of 24, and you’re a full-time student
- If you’re another family member who relied on the deceased for financial support
- If you can prove that you were dependent on the individual who passed away
In addition to traditional family members, Louisiana also allows non-relatives who lived with the deceased and relied on their financial support to claim death benefits.
If the victim did not have dependents, certain parties can qualify for a lump sum payment of $75,000. Those who qualify for this lump sum include nondependent adult children of the deceased worker or the surviving parents of the worker.
Additionally, surviving family members can receive up to $8,500 for funeral and burial expenses.
Even if you fail to claim death benefits immediately after your loved one passes, you can still receive benefits later. In Louisiana, you have two years after the victim’s final medical treatment to claim death benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Amounts and Allocations in Louisiana
The payments that surviving parties receive from death benefits depend on the deceased workers’ weekly wages. The percentage of the wages that go towards dependents depends on the number of dependents.
In Louisiana, the percentage of wages that go towards death benefits cannot surpass 65%. The percentage of wages that go towards dependents is as follows:
- 5% for a widow
- 25% for a widow and one dependent child
- 65% for a widow and two or more dependent children
- 5% for one dependent child
- 25% for two dependent children
- 65% for three or more dependent children
- 5% for one parent
- 65% for two parents
- 5% for one sibling
- 5% for two siblings
- 5% for three or more siblings
- 5% for a single dependent not classified as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling
- 5% for two non-relative dependents
- 5% for three or more non-relative dependents
Wholly Dependent Claimants vs Partially Dependent Claimants in Louisiana
With workers’ compensation death benefits, recipients are divided into two groups: “wholly dependent” and “partially dependent.” Your compensation will depend on which of these groups you qualify for.
Someone who is labeled wholly dependent will receive payment based on a percentage of the wages that the deceased earned when they passed away. A partially dependent claimant receives compensation based on the percentage of the departed’s wages that went towards supporting the surviving dependent in the year before the worker’s death.
Wholly dependent claimants receive payment before partially dependent claimants. In addition to the separate categories of wholly and partially dependent claimants, workers’ compensation death benefits are also prioritized based on the relationship with the deceased.
If there are competing claims to receive death benefits, the spouse and dependent children are the first to receive benefits. If the deceased didn’t have a spouse or dependent children, the compensation is prioritized in the order of parents, siblings, and other dependents. There is no distinguishing factor between blood relatives and legal relatives, meaning that if you’re an adopted child of the deceased, you have the same claim as a biological child.
Determining the Amount Wholly Dependent and Partially Dependent Claimants Receive
Wholly Dependent Claimants
Wholly dependent claimants receive the total amount of the percentage of wages as discussed in the previous sections, but you need to prove that you were dependent on the deceased. You can prove whole or partial dependency by showing that the deceased made contributions supporting you. Once you prove that you were dependent on the deceased through documentation, financial records, or another method, you’ll then be classified as either wholly or partially dependent.
If you prove that the deceased was your primary financial support, you can be labeled wholly dependent. It doesn’t matter the percentage of the deceased’s income that went towards financially supporting you. For example, they could have only been using 15% of their wages to financially support you, but that doesn’t change the fact that you were wholly dependent on them. Additionally, it’s important to note that the deceased didn’t have to be your only financial support to be eligible for being wholly dependent. You could have received a small amount of support from other sources.
Partially Dependent Claimants
A partially dependent claimant is a person who received only partial financial support from the deceased at the time of their death. As noted previously, wholly dependent claimants take precedence over partially dependent claimants, meaning that being partially dependent does not guarantee that you’ll receive death benefits.
If you prove that you were partially dependent on the deceased and their death benefits didn’t all go to a wholly dependent claimant, you’ll receive part of the designated percentage from the deceased’s wages. For example, if you are an only child and were partially dependent on your deceased parent, you would calculate death benefits by dividing the amount you received by the deceased’s weekly income. If you received $100 a week and your parent made $800 weekly, you would calculate the amount by $100/$800 which is .125 (or 12.5%). Next, you’d multiply that number by the percentage of death benefits you qualify for based on your relationship with the deceased. In this example, you’re an only child, so you would be entitled to 32.5% (in Louisiana) of your parent’s wages if you were wholly dependent. Because you’re only partially dependent, you only receive part of that benefit. 32.5% (.325) times $800 is $260. $260 times 12.5% (.125) is $32.50. Your total weekly benefit for your parent’s passing would be $32.50 because you were only partially dependent.
How Long Do You Receive Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Louisiana?
If you’re a surviving spouse of the deceased, you can expect to receive death benefits up until the point in which you remarry. Once you remarry, you’ll receive a lump sum covering two years of payment.
Dependent children can continue to receive benefits until they become adults. If the surviving child is a student, they can continue receiving benefits until they’re 23. Additionally, the child of the deceased who has a physical or mental impairment that keeps them from earning a sufficient living can continue receiving benefits after the age of 23.
Hire Experienced Death Benefit Lawyers in Louisiana
Receiving the Louisiana workers’ compensation death benefits you deserve can be difficult. The laws that regulate who receives what can be incredibly complicated, and we know that you don’t want to deal with that while you grieve. If you need help receiving death benefits, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe. Our team will work tirelessly to get the compensation owed to you during this painful time. We’ll guide you through the process so that you don’t have to worry about your financial situation as you mourn your loss.
For a free consultation with experienced Louisiana death benefits lawyers, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. If you need help with Louisiana death benefits, call our New Orleans office at 504-302-4131. We’re only a call away from getting you the workers’ compensation death benefits you deserve!