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Death Benefits Under LHWCA

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) was created to provide benefits to maritime workers who do not qualify for coverage under the Jones Act. Those who qualify under the Jones Act are those who spend a majority of their working hours operating aboard a U.S. flag-ship vessel. Those who work in the harbors, typically in the repair and loading industry, cannot benefit from the Jones Act, but can qualify for LHWCA benefits.

Those who are injured working in this field may be entitled to things such as rehabilitation benefits, disability payments, medical care, and more. One other type of benefit that is provided under this act is a death benefit, designed to benefit the surviving family members of a worker who was killed while performing his job duties. One of the things that a death benefit will cover is the funeral costs, which can total up to $3,000 in compensation.

Weekly Payments

When it comes to weekly payments, the widow(er) is entitled to half of the average weekly wage of the deceased. This will be canceled upon remarriage or it could last for the entirety of widow(er)s' life if they never remarry. Additional compensation payments can be made available to those with families that have one or more children. This additional compensation will come at a rate of 16 2/3% of the deceased employee's average weekly wages.

In some cases where a harbor worker dies, they were the only parent of children. Children may be sole survivors after a harbor worker is killed on the job. In these cases, that 50% of the weekly wages may be paid to the children, and the same 16 2/3% applies when there is more than one child. This additional percentage is to be divided up equally between all of the surviving children. There are some cases in which the deceased had no spouse or children. This kind of scenario can warrant payment to surviving parents, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren.

It is important to keep in mind the amount of wages that a family is allowed to collect upon death. The average weekly wage cannot be less than the national weekly average wage at the time of that harbor workers death.

To compute the amount, family will have to take the lesser of these two:

  1. 200% of the national weekly average wage
  2. An amount that exceeds the workers prior average weekly wage.

"If I remarry, can I still receive death benefits?"

Upon remarriage, an individual may no longer be able to receive death benefit payments. This law is operating under the assumption that remarriage means the new spouse will be able to provide income in lieu of the death benefits. A widow or widower is not immediately left without payments. Instead, they will receive a two-year lump sum upon remarriage. This will benefit spouses of deceased harbor workers, so that they do not get used to living off of additional compensation from death benefits and then suddenly have those benefits taken away.

When it comes to the children involved, their benefits will cease at age 18. However, there are some exceptions. In the event that the children are in school, their benefits from the death of their parent may be able to carry through until they are done with college, up to 23 years old. Our firm can help you maximize the benefits that you receive under the LHWCA. Contact us for additional information on admiralty law and how it relates to your case.

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