There are rules for the death of a claimant if the claimant dies either as a result of the accident or for some other cause not related to the accident.1. Deaths for Unrelated Causes
If a claimant dies for some reason other than the accident, anyone that qualifies as a dependent can claim the portion of the award that survives the death of the claimant. The following will summarize the amounts that survive the death of a claimant for claimants that dies before October 1, 2011.
- Permanent Total Disability -- up to $45,000.00 will survive the death of the claimant with a credit for the amount of the award that was already paid;;
- Permanent Partial Disability – the remainder of the award will survive if the claimant dies before the award was issued, the claimant’s attorney should be able to obtain a rating and obtain a posthumous award.
If a claimant dies as a result of the injury and the death is compensable under the statute, the carrier will stop paying any prior awards until death and dependency benefits are established. Maryland Law provides that a party can make a claim for dependency benefits if they were the dependent of a covered employee who suffered an accidental personal injury or occupational disease. The Workers Compensation Commission usually determines whether dependants are wholly dependent or partially dependent upon the deceased at the time of the injury or disease that caused the death. Compensation payments can be prohibited in circumstances involving desertion of a spouse or circumstances involving marriage after the injury that causes the death or injury.
There are two types of dependents under Maryland Law, (1) wholly dependent individuals and (2) partially dependent individuals. Any individuals who were wholly dependent on a deceased covered employee at the time of death for support are entitled to claim dependency according to the statute. The death benefit payable for persons who are wholly dependent is paid at the rate of 2/3 of the average weekly wage of the covered employee. While the Commission records indicate that the compensation rate may have been 566.00, this may have been contested at a later date by the employer. The insurer for the employer is required to pay the weekly death benefit for the period of total dependency or until $45,000.00 has been paid in total to all wholly dependent persons absent other circumstances. As long as a surviving spouse or other person remains wholly and totally dependent after $45,000.00 has been paid, that person would be entitled to continuing payments during the period of total dependency. If any wholly dependent person becomes self supporting before $45,000.00 has been paid in total, that person would be entitled to benefits until $45,000.00 has been paid in total to the group of totally dependent persons. If a surviving spouse remarries, any payments immediately stop on the date of the remarriage. If that surviving spouse that remarried was wholly dependent and had no children at the time of remarriage, the surviving spouse would be entitled to payments for 2 years after the date of remarriage, not to exceed $45,000.00 If the surviving child remains wholly dependent after the $45,000.00 has been paid, the Employer/Insurer continues to make payments during the period of minority/dependency of the surviving child. If a wholly dependent child were to become self supporting before $45,000.00 has been paid, the Employer/Insurer continues to pay benefits until the amount of $45,000.00 has been paid. The Employer/Insurer continues to pay benefits for the benefit of the surviving child until the child reaches 18 and may be held to pay longer in the event the child was incapable of self support because of a mental or physical disability. Also, the Employer/Insurer may be held to pay continuing benefits for up to 5 years after the child reaches their 18th birthday if that child is attending school on a full time basis and the school offers an educational program or a vocational training program approved by the State Department of Education.
Partly Dependent Individuals are only entitled to recover if there are no wholly dependent individuals. The maximum weekly death benefit for a partly dependent individually shall be 2/3 of the average weekly wage of the deceased party. The weekly death benefit payable for partly dependent individuals will be the percentage of the weekly death benefit of the deceased and how that benefit bears to the combined income of what the deceased provided and what the partly dependent individual’s income was. Death benefits shall be paid for partially dependent individuals for the period of partial dependency or until $60,000.00 has been paid. If a surviving spouse remarries and does not have surviving dependent children at the time of the remarriage, the Employer/Insurer makes payments for 2 years after the date of the remarriage. The Employer/Insurer continues to make payments to a surviving child until the child reaches 18 years old. A child over 18 years old may have a claim for additional benefits if they are still partly dependent or in school.
Employees that die after October 1, 2011 are subject to the new laws enacted by the legislature. The total death benefit to be paid will be calculated by the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission by determining the percentage of total family income of the deceased’s average weekly wage compared to the total family income and multiplying by the average weekly wage of the deceased covered employee. The death benefit will then be divided between the beneficiaries for a maximum of 12 years. There are of course exceptions to this rule and all claims should be handled on a case by case basis. Please contact one of our Maryland Workers Compensation Lawyers to discuss your specific claim.