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What Happens if I Have Lost a Loved One Through a Work Accident?

In the event a person tragically loses their life in a work accident, it’s possible for members of their family or someone who was dependent on the deceased to make a claim for compensation, known as a dependency claim.

Eligible persons – defined under Queensland’s Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 – can claim a lump sum, quarterly payments and coverage of funeral costs under this type of claim.

In this post, we’ll provide more detail on how to make a dependency claim.

Who is eligible to make this claim?

A husband, wife, de-facto spouse or child of the deceased are all able to make a dependency claim. Additionally, a person not related to the deceased but who can prove they were dependent on them during their lifetime may also be able to make a claim.

When making a dependency claim you will need to provide proof of your relationship with the deceased. A married spouse can provide a copy of their marriage certificate, while a de facto spouse must rely on evidence such as joint bank accounts, co-ownership of property or household bills in both names. Birth certificates will suffice for dependent children, while children over the age of 16 will need to show proof of full-time education.

For those who are unrelated to the deceased but claim they were financially dependent on them, the proof required is more extensive. Tax returns for both the claimant and the person who died for the three years before their death, child support details, income and bank statements which show transfers of money from the deceased to the dependent and payments for household items are some of the supporting documents required.

The person claiming dependency should also provide a statement about the circumstances and nature of the dependent relationship and other information including:

  • whether day-to-day expenses were shared;
  • whether any property was owned together;
  • whether the dependent suffered from any disability;
  • an estimate of how much the loss of dependence is worth to the person making the claim;
  • how long the dependency would have continued if the person had not died;
  • any other proof that the deceased person was supporting them financially.

The process of making a dependency claim

If a person who died as a result of a work accident worked for an employer that is self-insured, those making a dependency claim will need to contact the employer’s relevant workers’ compensation staff for advice on how to proceed with a claim.

The majority of workers’ compensation dependency claims will be made through WorkCover Queensland. The authority will require certain information to support your claim, including the cause of the person’s death, proof of your relationship to the deceased and of your dependence on them.

A workers’ compensation medical certificate will usually carry the cause of the work death, otherwise, the claim will need to include the deceased’s autopsy (post-mortem) report, death certificate or Coroner’s inquest report.

Common law dependency claims

If it can be established that the fatal work accident was caused by the negligence of another person, dependents of the deceased can also make a common law claim for damages.

This statutory right is covered by the Civil Proceedings Act 2011 and allows family members to bring a claim for the loss of the deceased’s economic support and some limited medical, funeral and other expenses.

To make this claim it must be established that:

  • a spouse, parent or child was economically dependent on the deceased as a family provider, or the deceased provided household services to the dependent; and
  • the defendant would have been liable to compensate the deceased for the damage caused by the accident if the deceased had survived the accident.

There is a time limit of three years from the death of the person to bring this common law claim. It should also be noted that only one action can be brought on behalf of all dependents.

How specialist legal advice can help

When a loved one dies in a work accident it is generally a sudden and unexpected event that naturally causes shock and disbelief among survivors of the deceased. Dealing with the administration and stress of making the dependency claim detailed above is likely the last thing loved ones want to do while dealing with their grief, but with the right legal guidance from experienced compensation professionals Lifestyle Injury Lawyers, dependency claims can be made as trouble-free as possible. Contact us today for an initial consultation if this post applies to your situation.