Fatal Work Accidents and Death Benefits in Louisiana Workers Compensation

Sculpture at City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana

Louisiana workers compensation offers death benefits to family members of workers killed in on-the-job accidents.

If the deceased worker had a family, then the deceased worker's family is entitled to weekly or monthly benefits according to the specifics of each case, as well as money to cover funeral and burial expenses.

Most Common Fatal Work-related Accidents

The most common fatal work-related accidents include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Being struck by objects;
    • Brain injuries;
    • Electrocutions;
    • Explosions;
    • Falls from heights;
    • Fires;
    • Motor vehicle accidents;
    • Psychological problems; and 
    • Structural collapses.

Beneficiaries of Louisiana Workers Compensation Death Benefits in Fatal Work Accidents

Louisiana workers compensation entitles surviving family members of a deceased worker to financial support, if the worker was killed in a work-related accident.

The surviving spouse of a deceased worker who was living with the worker at the time of death is automatically considered a dependent under the law. This surviving widow or widower will continue to receive benefits for life or until remarriage.

Also, children of a deceased worker who are under the age of 18, disabled, or are full-time students under the age of 23, are automatically considered dependents under the law. These dependent children who are not disabled will continue to receive benefits until age 18 or up to 23 for those who attend college.

Others family members of a deceased worker may be considered dependents if they  actually relied on the worker's income and were actually dependent on the deceased worker at the time of the accident.

So again, Louisiana law specifically provides worker compensation death benefits, in the form of a percentage of the deceased person's average weekly wage — plus a one-time funeral benefit — to be paid to:

    1. The deceased worker's spouse living with the worker at the time of the accident and death.
    2. The deceased worker's children who are under age 18;
    3. The deceased worker's children who are full-time students in any accredited educational institution and are under the age of 24;
    4. The deceased worker's children who are physically or mentally incapacitated from earning; and
    5. Any other individuals who can prove actual dependency on the deceased worker.

Also, if the deceased worker had no dependents, but is survived by biological or adopted children, the children are entitled to a single one-time payment of $75,000.00.  This $75,000.00 payment is to be divided between the children equally.

If the deceased worker had no dependents and no biological or adopted children, each surviving parent is entitled to a single one-time payment of $75,000.00.

Under Louisiana law, wholly dependent individuals (persons who are completely dependent on a deceased worker) are paid in preference to partially dependent individuals (persons who are only partially dependent on a deceased worker).

Dependents who have competing claims to the workers compensation benefits are paid in the following priority: 

    1. Spouse and dependent children;
    2. Parents;
    3. Siblings; and
    4. Other dependents.

To order to receive workers compensation benefits, a dependent must be member of the deceased worker's family, but Louisiana courts have interpreted “family members” to include non-relatives that reside with the deceased worker.

Death Benefit Amounts and Allocations in Fatal Louisiana Workers Compensation Accidents

The amount of workers compensation death benefits that the dependent of a deceased worker receives depends on the amount of a deceased worker's weekly wage at the time of his or her death.

The payments to the dependents of a deceased workers shall be computed and divided equally among them on the following basis:

    1. If the widow or widower alone, then 32.5% of wages;
    2. If the widow or widower and one child, 46.25% of wages;
    3. If the widow or widower and two or more children, 65% of wages.
    4. If one child alone, 32.5% of wages;
    5. If two children, 46.25% of wages;
    6. If three or more children, 65% of wages;
    7. If there are neither widow, widower, nor child, then to the father or mother, 32.5% of wages of the deceased. If there are both father and mother, 65% of wages;
    8. If there are neither widow, widower, nor child, nor dependent parent entitled to compensation, then to one brother or sister, 32.5% of wages with 11% additional for each brother or sister in excess of one. If other dependents than those enumerated, 32.5% of wages for one, and 11% additional for each such dependent in excess of one, subject to a maximum of 65% of wages for all, regardless of the number of dependents.

The total payment to all dependents may not exceed 65% of average weekly wage or the maximum compensation rate, whichever is lower. 

Burial and Funeral Expenses in Fatal Louisiana Workers Compensation Accidents

Louisiana workers compensation entitles surviving family members of a deceased worker to receive a lump sum benefit for funeral and burial expenses.

The maximum benefit for funeral and burial expenses is currently $8,500. 

But if the reasonable expenses for the burial of an employee are less than $7,500, the difference between such reasonable expenses and $7,500 shall be paid to the heirs of the deceased workers, and such payment shall be in addition to any other benefits paid on behalf of the deceased employee.

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