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Ga. workers' compensation death benefits for work-related fatalities

Georgia workers' compensation provides death benefits to surviving dependents when a worker dies in a work accident; after a period of disability following a work accident; or from an occupational disease.
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    January 08, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The death of a loved one can be devastating both personally and financially. Georgia workers' compensation law provides for death benefits to surviving dependents when a worker dies instantly in a work accident; dies after a period of disability following a work accident; or passes away from the symptoms of an occupational disease.

Georgia workers' comp death benefits

Workers' compensation death benefits in Georgia include:
- Burial expenses up to $7,500
- Regular weekly money benefits to wholly dependent survivors like spouses, and unmarried children and stepchildren (under 18; in high school; adult and disabled from working; or under 22 and full-time postsecondary students)
- In certain cases, benefits to partially dependent survivors
- In certain cases, eligible dependents may be identified who are not spouses or children

Limits on dependent spouse death benefits

The death benefits of a surviving husband or wife of a deceased worker when there are no other dependents will be capped at $150,000. Spousal death benefits will also cease at age 65 or after 400 weeks of benefits, whichever provides more total money. Benefits will stop sooner if the widowed spouse marries again or cohabitates in a relationship.

Monetary penalty for intentional employer harm

The death benefits paid to surviving dependents are increased by a 20 percent penalty if it is found that the employee's death was caused by the intentional act of the employer.

Exclusivity of remedy

Normally, workers' comp death benefits are the exclusive legal remedy available to the family and dependents of the victim of a work accident or occupational illness. So long as the fatal injury or disease was work related or the employee was doing something that benefited the employer when the injury was incurred, the only remedy under Georgia law is workers' compensation and not a wrongful death or other civil suit.

Obtain legal advice

However, it is important to discuss the situation with an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney because in certain specific situations, other remedies may be available. For example, if a negligent third party caused the accident, like the manufacturer of a defective piece of work equipment that caused the accident, a lawsuit may be allowed against the negligent third party; or if someone willfully harmed the victim for personal, non-work-related reasons, a separate suit may be available.

In addition, a workers' comp lawyer can assist with the filing and appeal of the workers' compensation death benefit application. Any Georgian who was dependent on a worker who died from work-related harm should seek the advice of legal counsel to understand and pursue eligibility for death benefits from the state and in appeal to state court, if necessary.

Article provided by The Barnett Law Firm
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