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Fatal Work Accident Claims by Dependants

When a person has died as a result of a work related event or latent onset injury, a claim can be made by their family, or by a person defined as a ‘dependant’ under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. We understand it can be a difficult time for family members after losing someone in a workplace accident. Due to the sensitive nature of this type of claim, we encourage you to contact The Personal Injury Lawyers on 1300 782 202 to assist you to lodge the claim. It may be helpful to ask someone such as a family member or friend to assist you.

Compensation for a fatal injury may include lump sum or quarterly payments for dependants, as well as reasonable expenses to cover the cost of a funeral.

There are a number of documents the insurer will need from you when claiming for dependency.  These may include:

  • autopsy (post mortem) report;
  • death certificate; or
  • report of a Coroner’s Inquest.

In some circumstances, ambulance, hospital, or other medical records can be used to provide sufficient evidence of the worker’s fatality.

The documents required by the insurer help the insurer to determine:

  • the cause of death;
  • the relationship to the deceased person;
  • the dependency to the deceased person.

Proving a relationship to the deceased person

To show you are a ‘member of the family’ of the deceased person, you will need to provide the following:

  • for a wife/husband—a marriage certificate;
  • for a defacto spouse—proof of the defacto relationship, for example;
    • joint bank accounts;
    • joint ownership of property;
    • utilities accounts in both names;
  • for a dependent child, whether a child or grandchild of the deceased worker—a birth certificate;
  • for a dependent child over the age of 16—proof of full time education;
  • for a foster child—relevant documentation from the Department of Children’s Services.

Proving dependency

If claiming for dependency on the deceased worker, what will need to be established is the ‘reasonable and proportionate’ monetary value of the loss of dependence. How this is assessed is by looking at the household income of both you and the deceased worker.  It is not simply on the wages of the deceased worker. The documents that will be required to show this may include:

  • tax returns for the deceased worker and the applicant for the three years prior to the date of death;
  • copies of letters setting out the amount to be paid under a child support order;
  • bank statements of both parties to identify:
    • monies being transferred from the deceased person’s account to the applicants account;
    • payments for groceries and utilities;
    • the level of the applicant's income.

The insurer will also consider a statement covering matters such as:

  • how long the dependency has existed and how it came about;
  • the basis for sharing day to day expenses;
  • the claimant’s income;
  • whether the claimant suffers from any disability;
  • the claimant’s estimate of the monetary value of the loss of dependence;
  • any proof that the deceased worker was providing monetary support;
  • how long the dependency would have continued if not for the worker’s death;
  • whether the claimant and the deceased worker jointly own any property.

Latent onset injuries

In circumstances where a worker has died as a result of a latent onset injury, such as mesothelioma or malignant skin cancer, the insurer needs to determine whether the deceased person was a ‘worker’ during the period of exposure.

The following information will be required for this purpose in relation to the deceased worker:

  • a statement from the claimant about the deceased person’s work history and relevant exposure;
  • copies of documents such as articles of indenture or apprenticeship, taxation returns or other financial documents showing payment of wages, union membership during the period of exposure, and any other documentation about employment that may be available;
  • where there is no documentary proof of employment, statements from co-workers.

The insurer will request the following documents following the death of the worker:

  • the Will of the deceased person, if applicable;
  • Grant of Probate if there is one—this document is issued by the Supreme Court;
  • Letters of Administration if there is one—this document is issued by the Supreme Court in circumstances where the person died without a Will.

If a family member has died as a result of a work injury or illness, you should contact The Personal Injury Lawyers who may be able to assist with any claim or queries. 

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