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Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits: What If I Lost a Loved One to a Work-Related Injury?

If you have lost a loved one to a work-related accident or illness you may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. Workers’ compensation is designed to compensate injured employees who suffer work-related injuries, however, in some instances the loved ones of an injured employee may be entitled to benefits if the employee passed away due to their work-related injury. This article provides a brief overview of the death benefits that are available under Iowa’s workers’ compensation system, however, if you believe that you may be entitled to receive death benefits be sure to consult with a local workers’ compensation attorney about your specific claim.

Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Iowa

The Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation publishes a very helpful Guide to Workers’ Compensation that outlines the basic rights and duties of those covered by Iowa’s workers’ compensation law. This guide also provides practical information about who is eligible to receive death benefits in Iowa, the rate at which benefits are distributed, and the timeframe during which benefits are available.

  • Who Receives Death Benefits: If an employee passes away due to an injury or illness that would qualify them to receive workers’ compensation, then the deceased employee’s dependents are eligible to receive death benefits.
  • Rate: Death benefits are paid at a rate of 80 percent of the deceased employee’s spendable weekly earnings (not to exceed 200 percent of the statewide average weekly wage).
  • When Benefits Begin: Death benefits begin on the date of the employee’s death.
  • When Benefits End: Surviving spouses are entitled to receive death benefits for life or until remarriage. If a surviving spouse remarries, and there are no dependent children, then the surviving spouse is entitled to a two-year lump sum settlement. Dependent children are generally entitled to death benefits until they turn 18, or for life if the dependent child is totally disabled.

In Iowa, workers’ compensation insurance also provides burial expenses up to $7,500 (at the time that this article was written), in addition to the weekly death benefits outlined above.

When Should I File a Claim?

Workers’ compensation claims in Iowa should be filed as quickly as possible as our state imposes strict time limits on these claims. Code section 85.26 contains a statute of limitation which states that you must receive Iowa weekly workers’ compensation benefits or file an application for arbitration within two years of the alleged injury or else your claim may be denied. Be aware that the “date of injury” can be tricky to determine in some cases, for example if the employee passed away due to a work-related illness that manifested itself slowly over time. Therefore it is a good idea to assert your rights and file a claim as soon as possible in order to best avoid being barred by our state’s statute of limitation.

Need Legal Advice?

Here at the Noyes Law Office, P.C. we understand how upsetting it can be to fight over death benefits after losing a loved one. Our compassionate and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers would be happy to assist you during this challenging time and help ensure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to. Feel free to contact our Fairfield office toll free today at (800) 875-7148.


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