§ 97-38. Where death results proximately from compensable injury or occupational disease; dependents; burial expenses; compensation to aliens; election by partial dependents.
If death results proximately from a compensable injury or occupational disease and within six years thereafter, or within two years of the final determination of disability, whichever is later, the employer shall pay or cause to be paid, subject to the provisions of other sections of this Article, weekly payments of compensation equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of the average weekly wages of the deceased employee at the time of the accident, but not more than the amount established annually to be effective October 1 as provided in G.S. 97-29, nor less than thirty dollars ($30.00), per week, and burial expenses not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), to the person or persons entitled thereto as follows:
(1) Persons wholly dependent for support upon the earnings of the deceased employee at the time of the accident shall be entitled to receive the entire compensation payable share and share alike to the exclusion of all other persons. If there be only one person wholly dependent, then that person shall receive the entire compensation payable.
(2) If there is no person wholly dependent, then any person partially dependent for support upon the earnings of the deceased employee at the time of the accident shall be entitled to receive a weekly payment of compensation computed as hereinabove provided, but such weekly payment shall be the same proportion of the weekly compensation provided for a whole dependent as the amount annually contributed by the deceased employee to the support of such partial dependent bears to the annual earnings of the deceased at the time of the accident.
(3) If there is no person wholly dependent, and the person or all persons partially dependent is or are within the classes of persons defined as "next of kin" in G.S. 97-40, whether or not such persons or such classes of persons are of kin to the deceased employee in equal degree, and all so elect, he or they may take, share and share alike, the commuted value of the amount provided for whole dependents in (1) above instead of the proportional payment provided for partial dependents in (2) above; provided, that the election herein provided may be exercised on behalf of any infant partial dependent by a duly qualified guardian; provided, further, that the Industrial Commission may, in its discretion, permit a parent or person standing in loco parentis to such infant to exercise such option in its behalf, the award to be payable only to a duly qualified guardian except as in this Article otherwise provided; and provided, further, that if such election is exercised by or on behalf of more than one person, then they shall take the commuted amount in equal shares.
When weekly payments have been made to an injured employee before his death, the compensation to dependents shall begin from the date of the last of such payments. Compensation payments due on account of death shall be paid for a period of 500 weeks from the date of the death of the employee; provided, however, after said 500-week period in case of a widow or widower who is unable to support herself or himself because of physical or mental disability as of the date of death of the employee, compensation payments shall continue during her or his lifetime or until remarriage and compensation payments due a dependent child shall be continued until such child reaches the age of 18.
Compensation payable under this Article to aliens not residents (or about to become nonresidents) of the United States or Canada, shall be the same in amounts as provided for residents, except that dependents in any foreign country except Canada shall be limited to surviving spouse and child or children, or if there be no surviving spouse or child or children, to the surviving father or mother. (1929, c. 120, s. 38; 1943, c. 163; c. 502, s. 5; 1947, c. 823; 1951, c. 70, s. 3; 1953, c. 53, s. 1; 1955, c. 1026, s. 8; 1957, c. 1217; 1963, c. 604, s. 3; 1967, c. 84, s. 4; 1969, c. 143, s. 4; 1971, c. 281, s. 3; 1973, c. 515, s. 4; c. 759, s. 4; c. 1308, ss. 3, 4; c. 1357, ss. 1, 2; 1977, c. 409; 1981, c. 276, s. 1; c. 378, s. 1; c. 379; 1983, c. 772, s. 1; 1987, c. 729, s. 9; 1997-301, s. 1; 2001-232, s. 1; 2011-287, s. 14.)