Guide to Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Georgia

When employees die because of accidents at work, their surviving loved ones may be eligible to get Workers’ Compensation death benefits in Georgia.

Workers’ Compensation death benefits are paid to the surviving dependents of an employee killed in a workplace accident in Georgia. Death benefits typically equate to two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wages and can last for up to 400 weeks. Benefits are paid by an employer’s Workers’ Compensation carrier. A company without insurance will be responsible for providing death benefits to a worker’s survivors. Death benefit claims can be expensive, and employers can prevent them by properly training workers, implementing drug-free workplaces, and investigating deaths in Georgia.

For more insight into how NPN Brokers can help your company, call our Georgia Workers’ Compensation insurance brokers now at (561) 990-3022.

What Are Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Georgia?

If an employee is killed at work or dies from injuries sustained in a workplace accident, their dependents will likely be eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation death benefits in Georgia.

The first benefit available after an employee’s death is for funeral or burial expenses. This cannot exceed $7,500 in Georgia. If an employee has no dependents, meaning they are unmarried and without children, this will be the only death benefit paid to survivors.

Death benefits paid to dependents are equal two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wages prior to their death. If survivors are solely dependent on a deceased worker, they will receive death benefits for 400 weeks, which is close to eight years. In such cases, death benefits paid to survivors cannot exceed $725 per week in Georgia.

If a worker was receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits before their death, the amount of time they received them would be subtracted from the 400-week total for death benefits, according to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-265(b)(4). So, suppose an injured employee got Workers’ Compensation for ten weeks before they died because of their injuries. In that instance, their dependent survivors would only receive death benefits for 390 weeks in Georgia.

If a worker’s spouse was their sole dependent, compensation paid to their spouse cannot exceed $290,000.

If a worker’s death was due to an intentional act by their employer, benefits paid to their survivors could be increased by 20% as a penalty to the employer, not to exceed an additional $20,000.

If a worker has no surviving dependents, one-half of payable benefits or $10,000, whichever amount is less, must be paid to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

Who Pays Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Georgia?

Employers have Workers’ Compensation in Georgia so that they are not responsible for paying any benefits to injured employees or their dependents following a workplace accident. When employers do not have Workers’ Compensation, they become responsible for paying up.

Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation system protects employers from liability if an employee dies at work. Instead of the employer being responsible for paying benefits to an employee’s family, their insurance carrier will. While your premiums might increase slightly when death benefits are paid, your company will not have to pay them, which means can mean considerable savings for businesses.

When employers do not get coverage from our Georgia Workers’ Compensation insurance brokers, they risk being responsible for paying death benefits to survivors. While most likely still shielded from litigation, employers must pay equitable death benefits to survivors, death benefits that their carrier would have otherwise paid had they gotten insurance.

The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation can increase benefits paid to employees’ dependents by 10% as an added penalty against employers that fail to comply with the state’s insurance mandates. Non-compliance can also lead to thousands of dollars of fines and, in some cases, misdemeanor charges for employers in Georgia.

How to Avoid Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Claims in Georgia

Avoiding Workers’ Compensation death claims is important, as they can be extremely expensive and, if many occur, can cause a carrier to drop a company’s coverage. To do your best to avoid death benefit claims, properly train workers, enforce a drug-free workplace, and investigate accidents thoroughly.

Train Workers

Avoiding death claims is necessary for financial purposes and to keep your employees safe and out of harm’s way. This usually begins with rigorous training, especially for workers that will be interacting with hazardous materials or dangerous machinery. Workplace deaths are highest in the manufacturing and construction industries due to the dangerous nature of such professions. Proper training and regular managerial oversight can help you to avoid severe work-related accidents that result in death in Georgia.

Enforce a Drug-Free Workplace

A considerable number of workplace deaths are due to drug or alcohol use. If a worker was under the influence when they were injured, their intoxication levels could have been the cause of their accident. In such cases, a claim for death benefits could be denied. However, if one worker was the victim of another’s drunken mistake, death benefits would be approved because of Georgia’s no-fault Workers’ Compensation system. By instilling a drug-free workplace, employers can see a reduction in their Workers’ Compensation premiums and more easily identify and address employees that might be under the influence at work, reducing the number of workplace deaths and claims.

Investigate Deaths

When workers die sometime after sustaining injuries at work, it is important to confirm that their cause of death was due to a workplace accident. If it was not, your carrier would not be responsible for providing a deceased employee’s dependents with death benefits in Georgia. While this can be a delicate subject, it is a valid concern of employers, as claims filed after deaths unrelated to workplace accidents would be considered fraudulent in Georgia.

Find a Workers’ Comp Policy in Georgia Today

Call (561) 990-3022 to speak with the Workers’ Compensation insurance brokers at NPN Brokers today.