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Is Worker’s Death Covered by Workers’ Compensation?


Under Ohio law, if an individual in Ohio dies as a result of a job-related injury or illness, his or her dependents have to ability to file a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for death benefits. It makes no difference whether the individual who passed collected workers’ compensation benefits before their untimely death. This form of compensation is paid in an amount based on an assessment of the level of support the family had from their late loved one. Effective September 29, 2017, these claims must be filed within one year of the person’s death.

Workers’ Comp Death Benefits

Death benefits are only available to the dependents of the deceased individual. A claim for death benefits requires proof that the individual seeking compensation is in fact a dependent of the decedent whose death was caused by a work-connected injury or occupational disease. A dependent is generally “one who looks to another for support, help or favor.” Benefits are awarded to defray the ordinary living expenses of one who has been deprived of the decedent’s support. The decedent need not have actually provided the dependent with support; the determinative inquiry is whether the claimed dependent had a legal right to support from the decedent. In most cases, the individual seeking compensation is typically the spouse or child of the deceased individual. Both spouses and children have a clear legal right to support and therefore fall within the legal definition of a dependent.

If there is more than one wholly dependent person at the time of the workers’ death, R.C. § 4123.59(B) requires the Industrial Commission to apportion the award among all such dependents. The Industrial Commission may apportion the benefits “as it deems equitable in the circumstances of each particular case.” The Commission has no obligation to make an equal apportionment among those claimants who were totally dependent upon the decedent. Essentially, the Industrial Commission of Ohio has the ability to split up death benefit compensation among those who are dependents and have a legal right to compensation. Each dependent does not necessarily receive an equal share of the total compensation awarded.

An individual entitled to death benefits is able to receive that form of compensation from the date of the injured worker’s death until their own death or until they remarry if they are a dependent spouse. A child dependent is typically entitled to benefits until the child reaches eighteen years of age. However, if a child dependent is attending a full time higher education program in an accredited institution that dependent child can receive death benefits until they reach twenty-five years of age. If a dependent child is mentally or physically incapacitated from obtaining their own earnings they can receive death benefits on an ongoing basis with no age cut off.

The lawyers at The Bainbridge Firm are dedicated to helping all Ohio workers get the benefits they deserve. With workers’ compensation walk-in offices located in Columbus, Waverly, Marion, Springfield, Cambridge, Portsmouth and Ironton, the firm stands ready to assist any family in need of a Workers’ Comp Lawyer.

If you feel you may be entitled to death benefits don’t hesitate to contact the Bainbridge Firm. We will take all the necessary steps to help you obtain this unfortunate form of compensation. 

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