If you have lost a loved one to the effects of longshore or harbor work, we are very sorry. We also imagine that exploring your legal options at this time is the last thing on your mind. You may not feel ready to think about your legal rights after a loved one’s passing, but you should know that you could have a right to receive compensation.
Basic Longshore Benefits
Working on the U.S. waters or at its docks is dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the injury and death rates for maritime workers eclipse the rates for the general U.S. workforce, and they eclipse these rates by a lot. Unfortunately, the incidence of work-related longshoreman death is high, but federal law provides some relief to grieving and struggling families.
While employees in most states can access injury-related care and compensation through state-regulated workers’ compensation plans, maritime workers can seek benefits through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Longshoreman benefits under the LHWCA include:
- Compensation for lost wages due to a work injury (temporary disability),
- Compensation for permanent impairment caused by a work injury (permanent disability),
- Reasonable and necessary medical care,
- Vocational rehabilitation, and
- Death benefits for the survivors of a deceased worker.
Maritime workers and their survivors can seek benefits through their states’ workers’ compensation systems as well as through the LHWCA, but LHWCA benefits are reduced by the amount of benefits a claimant receives from the state.
Who Is Entitled to Longshore Death Benefits?
Under Florida’s Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), if a worker tragically passes away, their widow or widower is entitled to death benefits based on the deceased’s average weekly wage. Specifically, any dependent children will receive one-sixth of this wage. In the event the surviving spouse either passes away or remarries, these dependent children’s compensation increases, entitling them to half of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. This ensures that families affected by the loss of a loved one receive the support they need.
If no children or spouse survive the maritime worker, other dependents such as siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, and parents can receive survivor benefits. Figuring out who can receive survivor benefits after a work-related tragedy is not always easy. You can speak to an experienced Florida longshore and harbor worker attorney to determine your rights.
What Death Benefits Can Survivors Receive?
There are various benefits survivors of a maritime worker can receive to help them through a difficult time. Generally, the amount a survivor receives depends on the relationship they had to the worker.
Kinds of Survivor Benefits
Dependents of a deceased longshore or harbor worker can receive regular payments equaling a fraction of the worker’s average weekly wage (AWW) and funeral expenses. Normally, a worker’s AWW is their total yearly pay divided by 52 weeks. Please note that the LHWCA doesn’t allow benefit payments that are less than 50% of the national average weekly wage (NAWW) or more than 200% of the NAWW.
Amount of Survivor Benefits
Survivors can receive up to $3,000 to pay for the funeral expenses of a loved one. As we stated before, regular payments to survivors depend on their relationship to the loved one. The following amounts are payable to different family members of a deceased maritime worker:
- If there is only a widow or widower, the LHWCA pays out one-half of the worker’s AWW;
- If there is a widow or widower and one or more children, the surviving spouse receives one-half of the workers’ AWW and each child receives an additional one-sixth of the worker’s AWW;
- If there is no widow or widower but there is a child, the LHWCA pays the child one-half of the worker’s AWW and an additional one-sixth for each additional child; and
- If there are no surviving spouses or children, other surviving dependents can receive one-fifth to one-fourth of the worker’s AWW.
No matter the combination of surviving relatives, the LHWCA limits the total survivor benefits to two-thirds (or less) of the deceased worker’s AWW.
Duration of Survivor Benefits
When tragedy strikes, having a plan for how to move forward can bring some comfort. To develop a comprehensive plan, you need to know how long you will likely receive survivor benefits through the LHWCA. Like the amount of benefits, the duration of benefit payments depends on your relationship to the deceased worker. Spouses and children can receive survivor benefits for the following amounts of time:
- Widows and widowers receive benefits for life or until they remarry,
- Children receive benefits until they turn 18, and
- Children who are full-time students after 18 receive benefits until they turn 23.
The LHWCA may also continue payments for adult children with disabilities who cannot support themselves.
How to File a Claim for Death Benefits
Children, spouses, and dependents of a maritime worker who has passed must file Form LS-262 to make a Claim for Death Benefits. To receive funeral expenses, survivors must file Form LS-265. Survivors file both forms with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. With their forms, survivors must also provide proof of their relationship to the deceased worker.
The Deadline for Filing a Claim for Death Benefits
You have only one year from the date of your loved one’s death to file a claim for death benefits. This hardly seems like enough time when you are in a period of grieving, but an attorney can meet this deadline and do the work to obtain your benefits. You should speak to an attorney immediately after the passing of a loved one who did maritime work so you don’t miss an opportunity to receive financial support for your family.
Connect with a Florida Attorney for Support and Protection
Grossman Attorneys at Law is a compassionate practice with a focus on attention to clients’ needs, and we have the legal expertise to protect your family in times of crisis. We provide experienced attorneys, cutting-edge services, and the personal attention you need during stressful and trying times. Our consultations are free. Contact us now.. We’re here to listen, and we’re here to advocate for you.