Frequently Asked Questions

What if the employee dies due to a work injury? What kind of benefits does the family get?

Death Benefits: Unfortunately, some work injuries result in the death of a worker. In these instances, the employee’s family is awarded a certain amount of death benefits to compensate them for the loss of the income of their deceased family member. In South Carolina, the following family members are conclusively presumed to be total dependents:

  • a spouse;
  • a child under 18;
  • a child under 23 who is a full-time student at an accredited school;
  • a child of any age who is incapable of self-support due to a disability.
  • Other people can also qualify as total or partial dependents, but only if they actually depended on the worker for financial support at least three months prior to the work accident.

There is a limitation to the payment of death benefits, however. The death must happen within two years of the work-related incident, or, if the worker has a continuing total disability, within six years of the work-related incident. Death benefits are calculated similarly to other types of benefits — two-thirds of the deceased workers’ average weekly wage (but capped by the state’s maximum average weekly wage which changes every year). Death benefits are paid in the following order of priority:

  • Whole dependents: If there are whole dependents, they share the weekly benefit. However, if there is a spouse and two or more children, the spouse will receive at least 50 percent, and the children will share the remaining 50 percent.
  • Partial dependents: If there are no whole dependents, partial dependents will receive benefits in proportion to how much they relied on the worker’s earnings. If any of the benefit is left over, it will go to the worker’s non-dependent children, or if there are none, to the worker’s non-dependent parents.
  • Nondependent children: If there are no whole or partial dependents, the worker’s non-dependent children will receive the benefit.
  • Nondependent parents: If there are no dependents or non-dependent children, the worker’s non-dependent parents receive the benefit.

Death benefits are paid for a maximum of 500 weeks from the date of the injury. Benefits for children end when they reach 18, or if they are enrolled in school full time, when they reach age 23. However, children who are physically or mentally incapable of self-support will continue to receive benefits for the full 500 weeks. Further, the workers’ compensation insurance company will have to pay up to $12,000 for funeral and burial expenses.

If you are injured at work, the best thing to do is to contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at the Steinberg Law Firm. We have helped hundreds of injured workers get the benefits they deserve and helped to protect them and their families from financial ruin. There is no downside to contacting us to help you with your work injury claim. The initial consultation is free.

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