When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits through workers’ comp. Called “death benefits,” these sums are available to the worker’s spouse, children, grandchildren, or other dependents who relied on the worker for financial support.
This article describes benefits available if your loved one’s employer has workers’ compensation insurance. However, workers’ comp insurance is optional in Texas. If the employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, you might be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. To learn more, see our article on Texas workers’ compensation.
The following family members are eligible for death benefits through workers’ comp:
If the worker did not leave a spouse, child, or grandchild behind, other family members can receive death benefits if they relied on the worker totally or partially for support, including parents, stepparents, siblings, and grandparents.
Death benefits are 75% of the worker’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by law each year. As of October 2017, the maximum weekly death benefit is $913. (For the current maximum, visit the Texas Department of Insurance’s maximum and minimum weekly benefit page.) This is the amount that is available to all of the worker’s family members, combined.
Benefits are paid in the following order of priority:
Workers' comp also pays the actual costs of reasonable burial expenses, up to $10,000, as well as transportation costs if the worker died away from the place of employment.
Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Texas Department of Insurance within one year of the employee’s 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 Texas workers’ comp lawyer costs.)