NSW WC: Death Benefit Claims

NSW Workers Compensation: What happens if a worker’s death was the result of a work-related injury?

In the unfortunate event that a worker dies from a work-related injury, there are a number of compensation payments available to his or her dependents (or estate):

  • Lump sum death benefit compensation
  • Weekly compensation for each eligible dependent child
  • Reasonable funeral and associated expenses

Causation

In order to be entitled to compensation, the deceased’s dependent/estate must be able to prove that the deceased’s death was a result of a work-related injury. Death itself is not an ‘injury’. ‘Injury’ is defined in section 4 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) (‘1987 Act’). Therefore, it is important to establish the cause of death, and the relationship between death and employment.  

Lump sum death benefit compensation

The current lump sum payment is $862,350 as of 1 April 2022. This amount is indexed twice a year in April and October. The amount applicable is calculated at the date of the worker’s death. 

This lump sum amount is apportioned among the dependents who were wholly or partly dependent on the deceased for support. In the case where there are no dependents, then the lump sum is paid to the deceased’s estate. The Personal Injury Commission is responsible for making a determination of apportionment.  

Weekly compensation

In addition to lump sum payment, any eligible dependent child of the deceased worker is also entitled to weekly compensation payments. There are two types of eligible dependent child as stipulated in Section 25(1)(b) of the 1987 Act. The first type is any dependent children of the deceased worker under the age of 16 years and the second type is any dependent children of the deceased worker over the age of 16 years but under the age of 21 years who is a student.  

The current weekly amount payable is $154.40 per week (as of 1 October 2022) for each dependent child.  

Funeral and associated expenses

When considering what is reasonable, the insurer should take into consideration of what is the religious and cultural beliefs and standard practices that exists in the current society. The insurer is also liable for reasonable expenses to transport the body of the deceased back to the deceased’s usual place of residence or what would be the appropriate place for the cremation or burial (whichever is lesser in costs).  

Reasonable funeral and associated expense may include: the cost of the funeral, cemetery site, death certificate, coffin, catering for guests, funeral director’s service fees, flowers etc. This list is not exclusive and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.  

Case Study

At Littles we represented a dependent whose father unfortunately passed away due to a work-related injury. Our client had three (3) siblings and a surviving mother. The Respondent Insurer had disputed liability and alleged that the death of the deceased worker was not as a result of a work-related injury.  The matter was ultimately referred to the Personal Injury Commission for determination by a Member but during the Conciliation phase, the parties came to an agreement that the dependents were entitled to the lump sum payment. The lump sum payment was apportioned between the surviving spouse and the four (4) children of the deceased Worker.   

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