Worker's Family Can Recover NC Workers' Compensation Death Benefits


If a North Carolina worker dies from an on-the-job injury, his or her family is entitled to substantial NC workers' comp death benefits. In order to qualify for benefits, the employee must have died within six years from an on-the-job accident or occupational disease, or within two years from the final determination of the disability, whichever is later.

This claim must be filed within two years of the day of death. The claim should be filed by the dependents or next of kin. The claim cannot be filed by the estate of the deceased employee.

Compensation payments due as a result of the death of the injured worker shall be paid for a period of 400 weeks from the death. However compensation payments will continue to be paid to a widow or a widower after the 400 weeks provided that, as of the date of the worker's death, the widow or widower was unable to support himself or herself because of physical or mental disability. If such a disability exists, compensation payments will be paid during the remainder of the lifetime of the widow or widower or until their remarriage.

Compensation payments made to a minor child shall continue until the child reaches the age of 18 even if that time span is in excess of 400 weeks.

A widow or widower and a child or children are conclusively presumed to be wholly dependent upon the deceased worker. If there is more than one person wholly dependent upon the deceased worker those benefits will be divided equally among all of the dependents. For instance, if a deceased worker is survived by a widow and two minor children the total monthly comp benefits will be divided equally among them.

If there is a decrease in the dependent beneficiary pool during the 400 weeks following the employee's death, their must be a corresponding reapportionment of the full amount payable for that set period among the remaining eligible members of the pool. For instance, in the example set out above when each of the children become 18 years of age they are no longer beneficiaries of the death benefit. At that point, the weekly compensation rate will be divided among the remaining minor children and the widow. When all the children become 18 years of age providing the 400 weeks have not totally elapsed, the widow would be the only beneficiary and would therefore be entitled to the entire comp rate.

The weekly compensation rate in the case of death is the same as would be payable to the deceased employee had he survived. That amount is two-thirds of the average weekly wage, but not more than the maximum amount set by statute nor less than $30.00 per week.