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Work-related fatalities

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.

A death in the workplace is always investigated by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland – to find out what happened and to look at means of prevention for the future. More information is available in the death in a workplace guide developed by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

Lodging a claim with WorkCover

WorkCover understands 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, family members are encouraged to call 1300 362 128 to lodge the claim. It may be helpful to ask someone such as another family member or friend to help 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 WorkCover will need when claiming for dependency. These help WorkCover to determine:

  • the cause of death
  • the relationship to the deceased person, and
  • the dependency to the deceased person.

A guide has been prepared to help family and friends understand the claims process and provide contact details for useful government agencies and community services.

Medical evidence to show cause of death

When making a claim for a fatal injury, a workers’ compensation medical certificate will need to be provided to show evidence of a worker’s death. If a medical certificate cannot be provided, WorkCover require one of the following documents:

  • the autopsy (post mortem) report
  • the death certificate, or
  • the report of a Coroner's Inquest.

In some circumstances, WorkCover may also use ambulance, hospital, or other medical records.

Proving a relationship to the deceased person

To show you are a 'member of the family' of the deceased person, you must 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, WorkCover will need to establish the 'reasonable and proportionate' monetary value of the loss of dependence. WorkCover will look at the household income for both you and the deceased person rather than just wages when calculating this. The documents WorkCover need 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.

WorkCover also take 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 cases where the person has died as a result of a latent onset injury, such as mesothelioma or malignant skin cancer, WorkCover need to determine whether the deceased person was a 'worker' during the period of exposure.

WorkCover will need to gather relevant information about the deceased person including:

  • a statement from the applicant 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.

Other documents needed

WorkCover will request the following documents following the death of a 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.

For further information regarding fatal claims, including dependency information, call WorkCover Queensland on 1300 362 128.

Lodging a claim with self-insured employers

If the deceased worker's employer is licensed as a self-insurer, you can contact their workers’ compensation unit directly.

Support and consultative forum

The Interim Consultative Committee for Work-Related Fatalities and Serious Incidents was established to ensure an ongoing forum for injured workers and families affected by a workplace death.

Last updated
18 November 2019

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