In death cases, where the death results proximately from the accident within three years, compensation payable to dependents shall be computed on the following basis and shall be paid to the persons entitled thereto without administration, or to a guardian or other person as the court may direct, for the use and benefit of the person entitled thereto.
(1) PERSONS ENTITLED TO BENEFITS; AMOUNT OF BENEFITS.
a. If the deceased employee leaves one dependent, there shall be paid to the dependent 50 percent of the average weekly earnings of the deceased.
b. If the deceased employee leaves two or more dependents, there shall be paid to the dependents 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly earnings of the deceased.
c. If one of two or more dependents is a widow or widower, the compensation may be paid to the widow or widower for the benefit of herself or himself and the dependent child or children. In its discretion and when it considers appropriate to do so, the court shall at any time have the power to determine, without the appointment of any guardian or guardians, what portion of the compensation shall be applied for the benefit of any child or children and may order the same paid to a guardian or custodian of the child or children.
d. Partial dependents shall be entitled to receive only that proportion of the benefits provided for total dependents which the average amount of the earnings regularly contributed by the deceased employee to the partial dependent, at and for a reasonable time immediately prior to the injury, bore to the total income of the dependent during the same time. If there is one dependent and one or more partial dependents and the dependent is not entitled to the maximum amount of compensation provided in Section 25-5-68 , there shall be paid to the partial dependent or partial dependents that percentage of the benefit paid to a full dependent which the contribution of the decedent to the partial dependent's support bears to the total income of the partial dependent. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the compensation payable to the partial dependent or dependents shall not exceed the lesser of 16 2/3 percent of the decedent's average weekly wage or the difference between the compensation payable to the full dependent and the maximum weekly compensation benefit payable as provided in Section 25-5-68 .
e. Except as provided in subdivision (3), if compensation is being paid under this article to any dependent, the compensation shall cease upon the death or marriage of the dependent, unless otherwise provided in this article.
f. Upon the cessation of compensation to or for any dependent, for any cause, the compensation of the remaining dependents entitled to compensation shall, for the unexpired period during which their compensation is payable, be that which would have been payable to them had they been the only persons entitled to compensation at the time of death of the deceased employee.
g. If, however, the deceased employee at the time of his or her death has no dependents as herein defined, then within 60 days of his or her death, the employer shall pay a one-time lump sum payment of seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500) to the deceased worker's estate.
h. If a dependent is the surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer or firefighter killed as a result of injuries received while engaged in the performance of his or her duties, the compensation does not cease upon remarriage.
(2) Maximum and minimum compensation awards. The compensation payable in case of death to persons wholly dependent shall be subject to a maximum and minimum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68 , but if at the time of injury the employee receives earnings of less than the minimum stated in Section 25-5-68 , then the compensation shall be the full amount of such earnings per week. The compensation payable to partial dependents shall be subject to a maximum and minimum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68 , but if the income loss of the partial dependents by the death is less than the minimum weekly compensation stated in Section 25-5-68 , then the dependents shall receive the full amount of their income loss. This compensation shall be paid during dependency, not exceeding 500 weeks, except as provided in subsection (f) of Section 25-5-68 . Payments shall be made at the intervals when the earnings were payable, as nearly as may be, unless the parties otherwise agree.
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