Many young adults think that they are invincible. When adolescents first enter the workplace the thought that they might be injured at work often doesn’t cross their minds, let alone the prospect that they might suffer fatal injuries whilst ‘on the job’. Even as workers grow older and wiser, the risk of being killed at work is a thought that we put to the back of our minds. However, despite welcome progression in workplace health and safety measures, fatal accidents at work sadly still occur. It is therefore important to know what your rights are if a loved one is killed at work.
This leads to the question, what are your rights if your partner or family member suffers fatal injuries during the course of employment due to an accident and was residing with you at the time? The answer is that if it is proven that you were either partially or wholly dependant on that person you will be entitled to a workers compensation payment by the employer.
Section 4 of the Workplace Injury Management Act 1998 (NSW) states the following:-
“Dependants of a worker mean such of the members of the worker’s family as were wholly or in part dependant for support on the worker at the time of the worker’s death, or would but for the incapacity due to the injury have been so dependant, and includes father, mother, sister and de facto partner of the worker, for the purpose of this particular claim.
De-facto relationship is defined by Section 21C of the Interpretation Act 1987 which provides that a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:-
- they have a relationship as a couple living together, and
- they are not married to one another or related by family”
The definition of dependency was discussed in a High Court case in the matter of Aafjes v Kearney  HCA 5. It was determined that for the purposes of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 a person is dependant on a deceased worker if at the date of death, he or she fell within one of the specified relationships and had a reasonable expectation that the deceased would provide support for him or her either at that time or in the future.
If you meet the definition of dependency, you are eligible for a fixed lump sum payment. The amount is fixed by statute and changes every year. The lump sum payable pursuant to s.25 of the Workers Compensation Act, applicable from 1st April 2016, is $760,000.00. Of course, no amount of money can compensate the loss of a loved one. However the lump sum at least alleviates the financial stress that comes with losing the income of a family member.
If one of your loved ones has been killed in a workplace accident, do not hesitate to call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 to speak to one of our experienced workers compensation lawyers, or make an online enquiry.
Written by Faye Salameh.