When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits. Called “death benefits” or “dependency benefits,” these sums are available to the worker’s spouse, children, or other dependents who relied on the worker for financial support. (To learn about compensation for injured workers, see our article on Florida workers’ comp benefits.)
A worker’s dependents—those who relied on the worker for financial support—are eligible to receive death benefits. The following family members qualify as dependents:
If there is no spouse or child, the worker’s parents, siblings, and grandchildren can qualify as dependents if they relied on the worker for financial support.
The worker’s death must have occurred within one year of the accident, or within five years of the accident if it resulted in continuous disability.
Benefits are paid on a weekly basis, according to the following order of priority:
The workers' comp insurance company must also pay actual funeral expenses, but no more than $7,500, to the deceased worker’s surviving family. A spouse may also receive payment for educational expenses. However, the total compensation paid in death benefits, funeral expenses, and other costs cannot exceed $150,000 for all dependents. Children stop receiving benefits once they turn 18, or once they turn 22 if they are full-time students. This age limit does not apply to children who are incapable of earning a living.
Dependents must file a claim petition for death benefits with the Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims within two years after they know, or should know, that the worker’s death was caused by a work-related injury or illness. The worker’s employer must also typically be notified of the worker’s death within 30 days of the death.
If you’re having trouble collecting workers’ comp death benefits, you should consult with a workers’ comp lawyer. To learn more, see our article on how much a Florida workers’ comp lawyer costs.)