Wrongful death can be a hard thing for a family to accept. Florida workers’ compensation attorneys help many wounded employees. They represent these workers until they get the compensation they deserve. Unfortunately, though, many wounded employees don’t live to enjoy their comp benefits. Instead, they sometimes die from their injuries or diseases. In 2016 alone, Florida recorded about 309 fatal work injuries.
When this happens, the deceased worker’s family may be eligible for death benefits. This class of benefits will compensate the deceased’s beneficiaries for the effects of the death. Usually, receiving workers’ compensation severs your right to sue for the injury or death. However, in some cases, you can still file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Therefore, it’ll be best to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Since you don’t know the possible outcome of the case, having an attorney can prepare you for any eventuality. Generally, Florida workers’ comp death benefits aren’t significant. A third-party wrongful death claim can thus increase your compensation. Fortunately, a good lawyer will know when best to explore this option.
Florida Workers’ Comp Death Benefits
Suppose your loved one dies from a job accident or occupational disease. Then, you can recover death benefits from their employer. Workers’ comp death benefits refer to the entire sum you can claim for their death. This compensation claim will include:
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Weekly payments to the deceased’s beneficiaries
- Educational benefits to the surviving spouse
Notably, the beneficiaries get their money weekly. There are also statutory caps on the amount you can claim as death benefits. For example, compensation for funeral expenses cannot exceed $7,500. Furthermore, the general payment stays at $150,000 or below.
What Is the Difference Between Workers’ Comp Death Benefits and Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
The key difference between work comp death benefits and a wrongful death lawsuit is the employer’s liability. Every dead worker’s family can claim death benefits from the deceased’s employer, and they don’t have to prove liability for the death. This is because Florida operates a no-fault workers’ compensation system.
Consequently, they also don’t have to show the dead worker wasn’t negligent. But there are only a few exceptions to this rule. One of such exceptions is where the worker died from an intentionally inflicted wound. Conversely, if a work comp case turns into a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove liability.
This is usually the case where the worker’s family believes the employer’s gross negligence caused their relative’s death or denies the work comp claim. Liability also applies to third parties whose negligence killed the worker. So, you can file a wrongful death case against the following negligent third parties:
Property owners or controllers have a responsibility to safeguard their surroundings. So, if they fail in this duty and injure an employee, they’ll be liable for such death.
Manufacturers have a responsibility not to produce defective equipment. Such faulty equipment could be work machines or vehicles. Therefore, when they kill an employee, the manufacturer will be liable.
Drivers have a duty of care not to endanger other road users. However, many drivers fail in this duty. When they do, the families of deceased workers can sue them for compensation.
Other parties that may be liable in wrongful death lawsuits include contractors and government entities.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Notably, not everyone can institute a Florida wrongful death action. Instead, only the survivors or personal representatives of the deceased employee can sue the fault party. These would include the following:
- The surviving spouse
- Other financial dependents
Statute of Limitations for Florida Wrongful Death Claims
The statutory periods for workers’ comp wouldn’t apply to a wrongful death lawsuit. Instead, you’ll have to obey the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. This law gives you two years from the victim’s death to file a claim. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to compensation.
Finally, wrongful death lawsuits can give you more considerable compensation than you’ll get from a workers’ comp claim. This can include:
- Medical bills
- Cost of transportation
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance, care, and instruction
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Punitive damages
Contact Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today!
Has your loved one died from a job-related accident or occupational disease? Then, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. First, however, you’ll need the best Florida workers’ compensation attorneys. Suppose a third party is responsible for the death. Then, you may also have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Our lawyers have significant experience handling several workers’ compensation claims. We can guarantee excellent results for your compensation claim. So, call us today for a FREE consultation.