Workplace accidents are all too common in the United States, and sadly, some of these incidents lead to severe injury and, sometimes, death. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. in 2021, a 9% increase from the previous year.
If your loved one was killed recently in a workplace accident, Nix Patterson’s wrongful death workplace accident lawyers sympathize and want to help. In some cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate. You may be able to receive compensation for funeral expenses, lost future income, mental anguish, and more.
For many job-related accidents, workers’ compensation is the only way for the family to receive compensation if their loved one is killed. In exchange for receiving workers’ comp benefits, proving fault in the accident is unnecessary. If the worker was killed on the job, it should be covered by workers’ compensation. The family would likely receive benefits from the company’s insurance policy.
However, there are limited exceptions. For instance, if the company did something to harm the employee purposely, a wrongful death lawsuit may be allowed. Also, if a third party accidentally killed the employee, the family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against that person or entity. It is common for multiple parties to be liable for someone’s death on the job.
Suppose your husband worked on an SUV assembly line, was caught in a defective piece of equipment, and was killed. You could be barred from filing a wrongful death lawsuit against his employer. However, if the third-party manufacturer of the deadly equipment was negligent in its design or function, a wrongful death lawsuit could be possible.
If your loved one was killed on the job, you should speak promptly to a wrongful death workplace accident lawyer. They can tell you if filing a wrongful death suit is possible in your case.
A wrongful death lawsuit often has advantages over workers’ comp because the grieving family can collect pain, suffer damages, and lose the deceased’s full earnings. Workers’ comp only compensates the family for roughly two-thirds of the deceased’s lost earnings and zero for pain and suffering. Thus, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can determine if filing suit in your case is possible.
Thousands of workplace accidents happen annually, and most of them are preventable. Some workers are more at risk than others, and these are the most common wrongful death risk factors:
One of the most frequent causes of job-related death is falling from heights and ladders. This kind of accident can happen in any field where employees climb or work on an elevated platform, but it is especially common in construction. But even working from only a few feet in the air can cause a fatal accident. Employers must offer effective safety equipment and training to ensure workers are not at risk of a deadly fall.
Workers who drive on the job or operate heavy equipment or forklifts are at higher risk of severe injury or death. These incidents can happen because of driver negligence, defective equipment or parts, or improper safety procedures or maintenance. Companies should be sure that all employees who drive or operate machinery have appropriate safety training and that all vehicles are in good repair.
Workers who handle dangerous materials — including certain chemicals, asbestos, toxins, or radioactive substances — can be exposed to hazardous levels if appropriate safety measures are not followed. Companies need to offer protective gear and safety instructions to ensure the materials are handled without incident. If exposed to hazardous materials, companies must offer prompt medical care.
Severe and fatal accidents can happen to anyone working around heavy machinery, but they are most common in factories, farms, and construction. Not carefully controlled or guarded machinery can cause a fatal safety hazard. Sometimes, a body part can be caught in a machine lacking effective guards. Or, a worker will be working between large equipment and suffer a fatal caught-between injury.
Explosions and fires on the job cause many serious and fatal burn injuries every year. These incidents may be caused by unnecessary risks with faulty gas lines, flammable materials that are improperly stored, or open flames at the job site. There are several types of severe and fatal injuries associated with explosions and fires at work, and these accidents are almost always serious.
States recognize the severity of the loss of a wrongful death, so they allow several types of financial damages to be collected in a wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one’s workplace death is eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit, there are three main types of damages that you may be entitled to:
Economic damages have an exact value and represent your out-of-pocket losses for losing your loved one. They include:
All economic damages can be easily identified and calculated. For instance, the loss of your loved one’s future work earnings can be determined by multiplying their salary at the time of death by the years they likely would have lived.
Non-economic damages are subjective and cannot be easily calculated. This is why non-economic damages are often the most contentious part of negotiating a wrongful death claim. They include:
Pain and suffering damages are challenging to calculate, and serious stakeholder disagreement could exist to determine a fair value. However, your wrongful death attorney will understand how to measure and frame pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.
In limited circumstances, punitive damages could be appropriate. These damages are not designed to compensate the family. Instead, they are given to the plaintiff to penalize the defendant for being extraordinarily reckless and disregarding the safety of others. For example, if another worker’s extreme recklessness or purposeful act caused your loved one’s death at work, a wrongful death lawsuit could result in punitive damages.
Proving negligence with evidence is required to receive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Usually, you and your attorney must prove four things to prove negligence:
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit for losing your loved one in a workplace accident, you should talk to a lawyer immediately. Wrongful death cases are always complex and get more complicated when the death happens on the job. There could be several potentially liable parties for your loved one’s death.
There also will be complex questions about your standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit in a workplace injury case. Workers’ compensation is often awarded in these cases, but wrongful death litigation could be possible if a third party caused the death. Your attorney will determine if and how you can file a wrongful death suit in your case and then hold the liable parties responsible.
Next, your attorney will know what your case is worth. They will assess several aspects of your case, including funeral costs, medical costs, and losing future earnings. Your attorney may retain an economic expert to gauge the amount of future earnings losses to arrive at a rough case value.
Finally, your attorney can save you considerable stress during an immensely challenging time. While you grieve over your huge loss, the last thing you want to worry about is lawsuits and tangling with insurance companies. A Nix Patterson wrongful death attorney will remove this burden from your shoulders.
There are fewer things worse in life than suddenly losing your loved one in an accident because of negligence or a wrongful act. Suddenly, your loved one is gone, and so is the financial and emotional support they provided for the family.
Fortunately, if you can prove that another party caused the death, you could receive wrongful death damages to move forward with your life and begin to heal. You can count on Nix Patterson’s wrongful death attorneys to fight tirelessly for the most compensation for your losses. Contact our law office today for a free wrongful death case review.
Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below.
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