Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

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In South Carolina the workers’ compensation system will provide certain death benefits for the support of dependents of employees who were killed by a work related accident. The beneficiaries who may qualify for a portion of an employee’s workers’ compensation death benefits generally fall into two classifications: the surviving spouse and children, and any other person who can prove to be “wholly dependent” on the worker.

Surviving Spouse and Children

There is a presumption under South Carolina law that a surviving spouse is “wholly dependent,” and is entitled to a minimum of half of the full benefit amount. Surviving children, however, must meet certain criteria in order to be found eligible. They must be:

  • Under 18; or
  • Between 19 and 23 and full time students; or
  • Mentally or physically incapable of supporting themselves.

Other Wholly Dependent People

People other than a spouse or eligible children can still be held to be “wholly dependent” on the deceased worker, but it becomes more complex for these people. While a spouse or eligible child are assumed as a matter of law to be “wholly dependent,” anyone else attempting to claim workers’ compensation death benefits will have to prove that they derived their main source of income from the deceased worker. This is a much less straightforward process, and someone in this situation would be well advised to retain the counsel of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney prior to pursuing their claim.

Partial Dependency

In certain specific cases, South Carolina law allows for the payment of partial death benefits to a survivor. In order to collect on these however, the applicant has to show that they depended on the worker for part of their support, and then prove the amount of the worker’s income they were given each year to determine the benefit that they are entitled to. The processes involved in this are highly complicated and will almost certainly require a highly experienced workmans’ compensation attorney to navigate to a successful award.

Death Without Dependents

If a person dies without leaving any dependents to receive death benefits owed to them, first a spouse, then non-dependent children, and finally any surviving parents will have a claim for the benefits in descending order of priority. Failing the worker being survived by any such parties, the executor or representative of the estate will receive an amount to cover the actual costs of the administration of the estate, and funeral expenses. After which any remaining amount will escheat to the Workers’ Compensation Commission and be rolled into the state’s funds.

Contact an Experienced Greenville Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

In the state of South Carolina, workers’ compensation insurance includes death benefits. If you have had a loved one lose their life while at work in or around Greenville, South Carolina, you may be entitled to these benefits. The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm is here to help you navigate this complex area of the law. Get an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Greenville on your side. Contact our office today to set up a no-cost consultation.

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