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Workers’ Compensation in Georgia: Death Benefits

Georgia’s workers’ compensation system is in place to compensate employees in our state who are injured while on the job. Injured workers can receive several types of workers’ compensation benefits including medical benefits, disability benefits, and death benefits. Medical benefits are paid to cover the injured employee’s medical expenses including surgeries, medicines, rehabilitation, etc., while disability benefits are paid to help compensate for the injured employee's lost wages. Both of these benefits are aimed at assisting the injured employee, but death benefits, on the other hand, are designed to assist the family of an injured employee who passes away from his or her work-related injuries. This article provides a brief overview of how death benefits operate in Georgia, but it is important to keep in mind that each workers’ compensation case is unique and that for legal advice you should consult with a local Georgia workers’ compensation attorney.

What are Death Benefits?

Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act requires employers within the state to pay death benefits when an employee passes away due to a qualifying work-related injury or illness. Under code section 34-9-265, the employer is required to pay the following three types of death benefits:

  • Medical Expenses: The employer must cover all medical expenses that the injured employee incurred as a result of the work-related injury or illness that ultimately led to his or her death.
  • Funeral Expenses: The employer is obligated to pay reasonable burial expenses incurred in connection with the deceased employee’s funeral, up to $7,500 (as of the time that this article was written).
  • Benefits to Dependents: The employer must also pay benefits to the deceased’s employee’s qualifying surviving dependents. Under code section 34-9-265(b)(2), individuals who are found to have been totally dependent on the deceased employee are eligible to receive the disability benefits that the injured employee would have received had they survived. However, partially dependent individuals are only entitled to receive an amount of the available compensation that is proportionate to their level of dependence.
Who Can File for Death Benefits in Georgia?

Anyone who was “totally dependent” or “partially dependent” on the injured employee before he or she died can claim death benefits in Georgia, provided that the deceased employee would have qualified for workers’ compensation had he or she survived. A qualifying dependent is anyone who looked to the employee for life necessities for at least three months prior to the employee’s death. Qualifying dependents are generally spouses, minor children, and adult children who are either studying or disabled.

Need Legal Advice?

If you have lost a loved one due to a work-related injury or illness, the attorneys of Angell Law Firm, LLC we would like to help you through this challenging time by advocating for your rights and pursuing the death benefits that you are entitled to so that you can focus your attention elsewhere. If you have questions about workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia and would like to discuss your legal options contact our Atlanta office at (770) 217-4954.

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