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Workers Comp Death Benefits & Wrongful Death Lawsuits: What’s The Difference


new foundation at a construction site for a luxury condominium in florida that was shut down after a worker died

Wrongful deaths can be very disheartening and a big blow for families to accept. Our attorneys have been of great help to many wounded victims. We represent these victims and ensure they get the reparations they deserve. 

Sadly, most of these wounded employees don’t remain alive to enjoy the comp benefits. They mostly pass away from the injuries sustained or through infections and diseases. There was a record of 309 fatal work injuries in 2016.

In cases of such unfortunate events, the deceased worker’s family becomes eligible to file for death benefits. The benefit is more or less compensation to the family of the deceased for the effect of the death. 

You must remember that automatically receiving the compensation disqualifies you from filing a lawsuit for an injury or death. However, you can still file a wrongful death lawsuit with a wrongful death attorney.

To this end, it is only advisable you get only the best wrongful death attorney. Since the case’s outcome can never be predicted, having a competent attorney will put you on the right track. 

The benefits of workers comp death in Florida are not so significant. As a result, a third-party wrongful death case might somewhat increase your compensation. Only a reasonable wrongful death attorney knows when to implement this option.

Workers Comp Death Benefits

If your spouse, family, or friends dies from an accident on a job or an occupational disease, you are entitled to recover the death benefits of that individual. The Workers Comp Death Benefits is the total amount you are entitled to. The compensation consists of

  • Burial and funeral expenses.
  • Educational benefits to their spouse.
  • Weekly payments to the beneficiary of the compensation.

Generally, the beneficiary is entitled to a weekly payment. However, there is a statutory benchmark on the amount you can claim as compensation. For instance, the compensation for the burial and funeral expenses is not more than $7,500, and the overall payment cannot exceed $150,000.

Workers’ Comp Death Benefits Vs. Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

There is just one significant outstanding difference between these two entities. The difference here is the employer’s liability. The family of a deceased employee is entitled to the benefits without evincing liability for the death. This is so because Florida is a no-fault workers’ state.

Furthermore, they don’t have to present any evidence of negligence of the deceased employee. Though, the State sets some exceptions in such situations. For instance, an event where the deceased inflicted the injury upon themselves is one of the exceptions. 

On the contrary, if the work comp case advances to a wrongful death lawsuit, you must provide liability.

A wrongful death lawsuit occurs when the deceased employee’s family believes that the employer’s gross negligence is the sole cause of the death of their relative or when the employer refuses the work comp benefits. 

Liability is also applicable to all the parties whose carelessness might have been the cause of death. To this end, you can file a wrongful death case against the following parties:

  • Property Owners
    Property owners, controllers, or agents are responsible for implementing measures to guarantee safety around their property. When they don’t do this, and as a result, an employee’s life is lost, they are liable.
  • Product Manufacturer 
    It is the responsibility of every manufacturer not to produce faulty or inefficient equipment. This equipment includes but is not limited to heavy machines, small tools, and even vehicles. To this end, if an employee dies operating such equipment, the manufacturer becomes liable.
  • Reckless Drivers 
    Drivers must be careful to ensure their and other drivers’ safety. However, we don’t see such drivers anymore. If the death of an employee is the fault of reckless driving, then the family of the deceased can charge the driver as a negligent third party.
    Contractors and government entities can also be liable as a negligent third party in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Not everyone in the State of Florida can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Only the personal representatives or survivors of the dead employee are eligible to file a lawsuit against the party at fault. The following are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

  • The surviving spouse.
  • The children.
  • Parents.
  • Other financial dependents.

Statute of Limitations for Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Workers comp benefits and wrongful death claims don’t share the same statutory periods. Instead, wrongful death claims follow the statute of limitations. Beneficiaries must wait two years after the victim’s death to file for the benefits. You must be particular about the deadline because missing the deadline may nullify the compensation. Lastly, wrongful death lawsuits offer a more substantial compensation than workers comp death benefits provide. The claims of wrongful death include:

  • Medical bills.
  • Transportation cost.
  • Loss of companionship.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Inability to earn.

Final Take

Did you lose a family or friend from a disease or accident at their workplace, or did they die on-site? You may be entitled to workers comp death benefits or wrongful death claims. However, you must hire a worthy and competent wrongful death attorney. Contact Schrier Law Group today to schedule your free initial consultation.