Ohio death benefits available to dependent family members

Workplace safety measures and regulations have helped improve worker safety over the past decades. According to the Toledo Blade, 2012 had the second fewest number of Ohio workplace fatalities in over 20 years, with 154 worker deaths.

Despite the decrease in worker fatalities, every job still has its safety risks, which always pose a threat to the lives of the workers that perform the job. According to state statistics, motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of Ohio workers across all industries. After motor vehicles, falls from platforms, trees, roofs, ladders and other elevated surfaces were the second most common safety threat. Overall, statistics show that the most deadly jobs are in the agriculture, construction and transportation industries.

Help for those who lost a loved one

Fortunately, for families whose loved ones have died due to a work-related injury or disease contacted as a result of the job (e.g. mesothelioma), there are death benefits available under Ohio's workers' compensation laws. Under the law, the decedent's spouse, children and relatives that are siblings or lineal descendants (in some cases) that are wholly or partially dependent on the decedent's support are eligible to receive death benefits.

The law governing death benefits presumes that the following individuals are wholly dependent on the decedent's support:

  • The surviving spouse that was either living with the decedent at the time of his or her death or was separated due to aggression on the decedent's part.
  • The decedent's children that are under 18 years old (or under 25 if enrolled in a full-time educational institution or program)
  • The decedent's children that are over 18 years of age, but have a physical or mental disability preventing employment
  • The surviving natural parents of the decedent, with whom the decedent was living at the time of his or her death. However, the maximum amount of benefits is limited to $3,000 in this case

Individuals that are wholly dependent are entitled to collect death benefits in the amount of sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the decedent's average weekly wage. However, if the decedent's wages were higher than the state's average weekly wage, the dependents are limited to sixty-six and two-thirds of the average wage. If there is more than one dependent that is eligible to receive benefits, the workers' compensation administrator will divide the benefit among the eligible parties according to law.

Dependent spouses receive benefits until he or she dies or remarries. However, in the event of a remarriage, the spouse is entitled to a lump-sum payment of two years' worth of benefits. For other individuals that are wholly dependent, the death benefits continue until the dependent reaches 18 years of age, reaches 25 years of age (if enrolled in a full-time educational institution) or, if mentally or physically disabled, no longer suffers from the disability that is preventing the seeking of employment.

Partially dependent persons receive benefits until a time determined by the workers' compensation administrator.

Siblings, lineal descendants and other dependent relatives of the decedent may also be entitled to death benefits if circumstances indicate the claimants prospective dependency on the decedent's support at the time of his or her death. However, under the law, the benefits paid are limited to a total of $3,000, which would be divided among all claimants.

Consult an attorney

If a loved one has been killed while on the job, it is wise to consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney. An attorney can fully advise you of your right to recover benefits and assist you in putting together a successful application.