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What Happens if a Loved One Dies Due to a Workplace Accident?

What Happens if a Loved One Dies Due to a Workplace Accident

While strict laws about workplace safety have dramatically reduced deaths from workplace accidents in the past 50-100 years, unfortunately, fatalities still occur, particularly in physically demanding industries such as construction.

In earlier times such a tragedy could leave the deceased’s family in precarious financial circumstances if the departed had been the major breadwinner.

These days, dependants of the deceased can thankfully make a claim under the state’s workers’ compensation scheme, also known as a death dependency claim.

Immediate family members, or those who can prove financial dependency on the person killed, are able to make such a claim under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (‘the Act’).

It should be noted this type of claim can also be made if a person dies from a latent onset injury – such as skin cancer or mesothelioma – that is work-related.

Compensation can be paid to the dependants in the form of a lump sum, quarterly payments and coverage of funeral costs. A lump sum will reflect the financial contributions the deceased would have made to the family had they not passed away, as well as the value of domestic services no longer provided to you by the deceased.

The steps to make this kind of claim are outlined below. Each claim is different and will depend on your specific circumstances, so it’s wise to speak with expert compensation professionals such as Lifestyle Injury Lawyers when considering this type of claim.

The detail on making a dependency claim

To be able to make a dependency claim a person must establish he or she is eligible as a ‘dependant’ under the legislation.

A husband, wife, de-facto spouse or child (including step-children) are all likely to be eligible to make a claim.

Someone not related to the deceased but who was dependent on them might also be able to claim.

There are a number of steps to follow in order to make a claim as a dependant.

The first step is contacting WorkCover Queensland with essential information including the cause of your loved one’s death; proof of your relationship to them, and; proof of your dependence on them.

A workers’ compensation medical certificate displaying the person’s cause of death can provide the first requirement. In lieu of that document, an autopsy or post-mortem report, death certificate or Coroner’s Inquest report will suffice.

Proof is also required of your relationship with the deceased. A marriage certificate for a spouse, or birth certificate or proof of full-time education for dependent children, should be included with the claim.

For those who were in a de facto relationship, evidence of a joint bank account or joint tenancy document should be included as proof.

The value of the dependence also needs to be demonstrated to the insurer in making a claim. This can be established by evidence such as:

  • tax returns of the person who died and the person/s making the claim in the three years prior to the death;
  • any child support details;
  • bank statements demonstrating the claimant received money from the deceased person;
  • details on outlays for groceries, bills and other household expenses;
  • the claimant’s income.

Further evidence might also be required, which can be included in a statement accompanying the claim, addressing matters such as the length of time the person making the claim had been a dependant of the deceased, how household expenses were divided, any shared assets such as property, whether the dependant has special needs, and an estimate of how much the loss of the deceased’s support and service is worth.

Other things needed to finalise a claim

If your loved one died from a ‘latent onset injury’ – a work-related ailment that developed over time but was the eventual cause of their death, such as a dust-related disease, an additional proof will be required to establish that the deceased was a worker for the purposes of the claim.

This may require dependants to provide evidence of the deceased’s work history and the circumstances of their job which led to the injury. The deceased’s tax returns, payslips or other employment documents will also be required or, if they are not available, statements from co-workers or other witnesses.

WorkCover will also require a copy of the deceased’s will, or Letters of Administration if they died without a will, and a grant of probate if one exists.

Some employers are independently insured for workers’ compensation. In this situation, dependants will need to contact the employer for the details of the insurer in order to work out whether a claim can be filed.

The importance of good legal advice

The guidance of experienced legal representatives in making a dependency claim can be essential, particularly at a time when the dependants are managing the grief associated with losing a loved one.

Let Lifestyle Injury Lawyers take on the administrative workload. We will pursue your claim in order to get the best result possible, alleviating the worry associated not only with losing a loved one but the family’s financial foundation.

Call us Gold Coast Injury Lawyers today if the situation discussed in this post applies to you.