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1.1 Compensation for injuries resulting in Death - S17 of the SRCA
Section 17 commences: '17(1) This section applies where an injury to an employee results in death...', and Section 17 is in fact the main source of entitlements for a work related death.
Note that the Section 17 entitlement relates to 'an injury' which results in death. As defined by Section 4, 'an injury' means a compensable condition, i.e. one that arose out of or in the course of Commonwealth employment or a disease to which that employment had made a material contribution (or, for a disease with a deemed date of injury on or after 13 April 2007, to which that employment had made a significant contribution). The required nexus between employment and death, is therefore exactly the same as that which applies in all other initial liability cases.
The words 'injury' and 'results in' should not be taken to mean that the section relates only to physical injuries which only prove fatal at a later time. Section 17 in fact applies to all deaths, i.e. whether the death was the end-result of a long disease process, the short-term consequence of severe injuries or from an instantaneous accidental death etc.
Section 17 death benefits represent compensation specifically for the death and are payable only to specified 'dependant(s)' or a dependant's guardian. The purpose of these payments is to recompense specified persons formerly financially dependent upon the deceased, notionally for the loss of that economic support. Note that it is the dependant who is entitled, not the deceased employee. S17 monies do not form part of the deceased's estate.
Section 17 provides for:
- A lump sum
Subsections 17(3) and (4) prescribe the maximum $ amount which applies. However that amount is updated annually (on 1 July) in line with the Wage Price Index, pursuant to Section 13 (which provides for the update of all SRCA rates).
- Compensation payable to a 'prescribed child' up to age 16 (or 25 if full-time student)
The quantum of this weekly payment is (as for the lump sum, above) updated annually on 1 July. The meaning of 'prescribed child' is defined by S4 and discussed at 1.18. The review and cessation of this weekly payment is discussed at 4.11.
The only other SRCA benefits specific to Death are provided by S16 and S18 (reimbursement of medical expenses and compensation for funeral expenses respectively). However these represent reimbursements of costs associated with the death, rather than as compensation for loss of the deceased's financial support. Reimbursements under S16 and 18 may be paid to persons other than a dependant (i.e. it is to be paid to whoever actually bore the expense).
Rates payable under the SRCA
All current SRCA rates are in CLIK and can be accessed via the following link