Are Spousal Benefits Available? Delaware Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Heather A. Long, Esq.
Since this issue of The Women’s Journal is devoted to weddings, I want nothing more than to tell you, the readers, all about the benefits available to you as the spouse of an injured worker. Sadly, the benefits are only available to the spouses of injured workers if those “until death do us part” vows come into play.
I realize that the last thing you want to think is that anything dreadful would ever happen to your soul mate. However, in the world of Workers’ Compensation, marriage is a club that does have its privileges. It certainly is not pleasant to think about or to talk about; but, once you’ve joined the ranks of those of us whom are married, you will officially have become entitled to certain benefits if your spouse is either fatally injured on the job, or is injured on the job and subsequently passes away from some other illness or injury. In order to make this easier to talk (and think) about, let’s bury our collective heads in the sand under the notion that this will never, ever, under any circumstances happen to our families. However, the information below is vital, so instead of thinking of your own family, rationalize it by thinking that you can keep this information in a safe place in case it would come in handy to help someone you know.
If a worker is fatally injured on the job, Delaware Workers’ Compensation laws are set up in such a way as to provide for the dependents of that worker. Usually the first benefit that will become available is the funeral benefit. Under Delaware laws, the worker who is fatally injured while on the job is entitled to $3,500.00 for burial expenses. This amount may be increased either by an agreement made with the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier, or by approval from the Industrial Accident Board. Realistically speaking, the funeral home will want to receive payment before the Industrial Accident Board will have a chance to hear and decide whether or not more money for this benefit would be appropriate. Therefore, the fastest way to guarantee that any funeral bills in excess of $3,500.00 will be paid is by making an agreement with the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. Typically, this is done through a lawyer.
Additionally, the spouse, child or children of the deceased worker may be entitled to receive benefits. The amount each receives is dependent on how many children the deceased worker had, but generally, the amount of benefits increases as the number of dependents goes up. There is a cap, or maximum amount, payable for this benefit. Usually, the benefits for the dependent children stop when the child reaches age 18, but they may be extended to age 25 as long as the child is enrolled full time in college. The spouse may continue to receive their benefits for 400 weeks, or until the spouse dies or becomes remarried.
As you can see, figuring out exactly which family members are entitled to death benefits and how much they are entitled to can be confusing and frustrating, especially while grieving for the lost loved one. I find that the best way for families who have lost a loved one to get through the process of applying for these benefits is to put everything in the hands of a lawyer who specializes in Workers’ Compensation law. This way, the family can begin the healing process without worrying about when and how they will get the benefits. All of the lawyers in my firm, including myself, offer consultations for work injuries. The consultations are free, and the insight into your claim could be invaluable to your family.
Heather has been an attorney for over six years, and is currently practicing workers’ compensation and personal injury law at Kimmel, Carter, Roman & Peltz, P.A. with offices in Newark and Wilmington. Heather worked her way through law school as a paralegal in a personal injury firm. After passing the bar exam, she spent several years working as a defense attorney, representing local, regional and national companies. With the knowledge gained of the inner-workings of these companies, she now represents injured workers and personal injury plaintiffs.
Heather is a graduate of Widener University School of Law, and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Prior to attending law school, she was licensed as a paramedic and spent time volunteering for her local ambulance corps. She is also active as a Mock Trial coach for Salesianum High School.
“The settlement you got sounds much better (than the offer they made to me before I hired you) and I don’t have to worry about my bills and such. Thank you so much.” ~ C.W.
“You did great at the hearing, getting my boss to admit that they knew I fell.” ~ J.J.
Heather is licensed to practice law in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, please call
(302) 565-6100 or e mail her directly at HLong@kcrlaw.com.