Accidental death

17 Jun 2017 - 20:54 | Version 6 |

Contributed by Morgan Speight and current to 1 March 2017

Cover

If someone has suffered a fatal injury, then ACC will pay compensation to a partner of the deceased, and to dependent children.

In the event of a fatal injury, someone will need to contact ACC. This person does not have to be immediate family to the deceased, and can be a family friend, a member of the extended family/whanau, a minister or priest, or the funeral director.

The executor of the estate or next of kin will need to fill out and sign form ACC21 (available from the ACC website).

Eligibility

ACC will need to check that the fatal injury is covered, once this has happened, it will need to confirm whether claimants are eligible and confirm their relationships to the deceased.

Once ACC determines that you are eligible for compensation, you will receive a letter about that decision. If ACC decides that you are eligible a payment will be made into a bank account, or will send a cheque if you have not provided bank account details. If your eligibility is rejected, ACC will write to you and explain the reasons for denying eligibility.

If you disagree with a decision made regarding the eligibility of the injury or of a party claiming compensation, you can apply to have this decision reviewed.

Spouse of the deceased

To qualify as a spouse of the deceased you will need to be:
  • Legally married to the deceased, or living with the deceased in a relationship in the nature of marriage; and
  • Financially supported by the deceased immediately prior to their death; or
  • Living with the deceased immediately prior to their injury (unless separated due to health problems, employment, or imprisonment).
This means that more than one person might qualify as a 'spouse' and that more than one person might therefore receive a survivor's grant.

For example:
  • Person A was married to Person B
  • Person A and Person B separated
  • Person B is still financially supporting Person A
  • Person B is now living in a de facto relationship with Person C
  • Person B and Person C would both qualify as a spouse
If more than one person qualifies as a spouse, the grant is divided equally between them.

You will need to prove your relationship to the deceased person. The following is the type of proof ACC will need to see
  • Copy of your marriage certificate;
  • Copy of your civil union licence;
  • For a de facto relationship:
    • A statutory declaration from you and friends/family members about the nature of your relationship
    • Copies of financial records and assets (e.g. bank statements, bill payments - to prove joint financial interdependence)
    • Details of your living arrangements (e.g. who you lived with, how long you were living together)
    • Confirmation from employers/GPs that you were listed as next of kin
    • If you and the deceased were not living together for a listed reason:
      • Confirmation from an employer/training institution regarding the living situation;
      • Information from medical practitioner that you were not able to live together due to the health of you or your spouse;
      • Confirmation from Department of Corrections regarding the living situation.

Children of the deceased

A child of the deceased will qualify if they are 18 years old or younger, and:
  • A natural or biological child of the deceased; or
  • An adopted child of the deceased; or
  • A foster child; or
  • A step child; or
  • A child for whom the deceased acted as a parent (such as a whangai child)
ACC may ask for proof such as:
  • Full birth certification with the deceased named as a parent;
  • adoption papers showing date of birth and deceased as adopting parent;
  • Copy of the parents' marriage certificate;
  • Where the parents of the child were in a de facto relationship:
    • A statutory declaration from the surviving parent and friends/family members about the nature of that relationship;
    • Copies of financial records and assets (e.g. bank statements, bill payments - to prove joint financial interdependence of the parents);
    • Details of the living arrangements of the parents;
    • Confirmation from employers/GPs that the surviving parent was listed as next of kin;
    • Proof that the deceased acted as a parent (usually this will be in the form of a statutory declaration to confirm that the deceased acted as a parent).

Dependents of the deceased

A dependent is a person who is not a spouse or child of the deceased, but who is financially dependent on the deceased because of a mental or physical disability.

Example:
  • Person A was the natural child of the deceased
  • Person A is over 18 years old
  • Person A suffers from a physical or mental disability
  • Because of this disability, Person A was dependent on the deceased for support
  • Person A would qualify as a dependent of the deceased
ACC may ask for proof such as:
  • Details of why the person is financially dependent on the deceased (such as disability)
  • Documentation to show that you were financially dependent on the deceased
  • Medical confirmation of disability

Weekly compensation

The partner of the deceased is entitled to receive 60% of what the deceased would have been entitled to if incapacity had resulted instead of death.

The compensation that ACC will provide will not be affected by the surviving partner entering a new relationship (including marriage, civil union or de facto relationship).

Weekly compensation will last for either:
  • Five years; or
  • Until there are no dependent children under 18 years that the surviving partner cares for.

Lump sum compensation

The surviving partner can choose to convert their weekly compensation entitlement into one or more lump sum payments. If a surviving partner decides that they would prefer to receive compensation in one or more lump sum payment(s), then they cannot also receive the compensation as weekly payments.

If a surviving partner decides that they would prefer to have compensation paid as more than one lump sum, then the payments must be at least 6 months apart.

Survivors grant

This is different to the weekly compensation and is paid by ACC in addition to that payment. ACC is required to pay this grant to the surviving partner of the deceased, and will pay an amount to the children of the deceased who are under 18, and other dependents of the deceased.

The survivors grant is a one-off payment, it is non-taxable, and is calculated based on the date of death.
  • The partner of the deceased - $6,455.40
  • Each child of the deceased (under 18 years) - $3,227.72
  • Each dependent of the deceased - $3,227.72

Entitlements for children of the deceased

A child or dependent of the deceased is entitled to 20% of the compensation that the deceased would have received if the injury had permanently incapacitated the deceased. If both parents are fatally injured then 20% of the compensation is available for each parent.

If the child is under 16 years, then the entitlements will be paid to their caregiver, however if the child is over 16 then the payments will be made to them directly.

How long do payments last?

Compensation payments will last until:
  • The end of the year that the child turns 18 years old; or
  • If the child is in full-time study, until they turn 21.

Children born after fatal injury of a parent

A child born within 12 months of the fatal injury is deemed to be a child of the deceased:

Childcare payments

ACC will pay for the costs of childcare for a child of the deceased. ACC payments will not cover any administration costs involved with that childcare.

Childcare compensation payments are paid in the following amounts (as at 1 July 2016, these amounts are adjusted each year).
  • For one child - $137.27
  • For two children - $82.35 each
  • For three or more children - $192.18 in total

Eligibility

Childcare entitlements can begin from the death of the injured person and are paid to the caregiver or person responsible for the child.

How long do childcare payments last?

Compensation payments will last until either:
  • Payments have been made for five years; or
  • The child turns 14 (unless that child requires care because of a physical or mental condition).
Payments will stop when either one of these requirements is met, whichever happens first.

Funeral grant

All accidental death claims that have been accepted by ACC are eligible for a funeral grant. The grant is intended to help meet the costs of the funeral. The grant will cover the cost of the funeral up to $6,021.11 (as at 1 July 2016) - this sum is adjusted each year.

Who is covered?

A New Zealand resident who suffers a fatal injury whilst overseas; or a visitor to New Zealand may also be eligible for a funeral grant.

Applying for a funeral grant

A funeral grant is requested as part of the normal claim process. The grant will be paid to the funeral director unless the account has already been paid. If the costs have already been met, then ACC will reimburse the estate of the deceased, or the person who paid for the funeral.

If the funeral has not been paid for ACC will need:
  • A detailed invoice from the estate or the funeral director, showing the costs of the funeral,
  • If an ACC21 Form has not been sent to ACC or that form did not contain all of the information required, the executor of the estate will need to send in an ACC136 Funeral Grant Form.
If the funeral has already been paid for, ACC will need:
  • A detailed invoice from the estate or the funeral director, showing the costs of the funeral,
  • If an ACC21 Form has not been sent to ACC or that form did not contain all of the information required, the executor of the estate will need to send in an ACC136 Funeral Grant Form.
  • A receipt of payment that shows:
    • Who paid the account; and
    • How much was paid.
Once ACC has received the invoice (and receipt of payment if applicable), ACC will make a payment or reimbursement to the appropriate person. ACC will also write to the estate of the deceased to let you know that the account was paid.

What can the funeral grant cover?

ACC can pay a maximum of $6,021.11 (as at 1 July 2016) towards the funeral costs. If the total cost for the service is less than this amount, the remaining amount may be used for other funeral or memorial costs for the deceased in the future.

Funeral grants for victims of homicide

The ACC funeral grant has been extended for victims of homicide and is paid for by ACC on behalf of the government.

How much is the homicide funeral grant worth?

A maximum grant of $10,000 is available to families of homicide victims (this figure includes the amount available under the ACC Funeral Grant). The grant will cover the costs of the funeral or memorial service up to $10,000.

Eligibility

The additional grant is given by ACC on behalf of the Government, and is only payable once:
  • The police have confirmed that the death is the result of a homicide; and
  • The full amount of the ACC funeral grant has been claimed.

Applying for a funeral grant for victims of homicide

If you believe that the additional funeral grant may be available to you, you should let ACC know. Once you have made contact with ACC about the additional grant, they can advise you as to how to apply.

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