What is Wrongful Death in the Workplace?
Wrongful deaths in the workplace are some of the worst tragedies that happen to thousands of families every year. Families send their loved ones off to work expecting them to return home at the end of the day, only to receive the phone call no one wants to receive: “there’s been an accident”. Receiving this kind of phone call is only the beginning of what will surely become a long, emotionally trying time in grief-stricken families lives.
This writeup provides information on exactly what surviving family members should know to protect their rights after wrongful death. Whether the wrongful death occurs due to employer negligence or another employee, even deceased victims have rights! Personal Injury attorneys are there to ensure those rights are upheld.
Within this writeup, we’ll answer the following questions regarding workplace wrongful death:
- Why does surviving family need a wrongful death lawyer?
- Lawsuit or worker’s compensation?
- When does a wrongful death case go to trial?
- How is OSHA doing their part in preventing workplace accidents?
- Don’t forget Florida’s Statute of Limitations
Why does surviving family need a wrongful death lawyer?
It’s important to retain a Personal Injury attorney as quickly as possible after a wrongful death. A Personal Injury lawyer with the right experience can ensure the legal side of loss moves as smoothly as possible. Families may need to consult with several lawyers before choosing the right one. A good sign that a family is in the right place, is Board Certification. A lawyer with this achievement should be the lawyer representing a family in a wrongful death case.
Lawsuit or worker’s compensation?
There are cases of serious bodily injury that do not result in death. In these cases, a victim has a very difficult decision to make. The question then becomes: does the employee with injuries sue the employer? Do they file for workers’ compensation benefits? A victim cannot do both.
In Florida, if a victim accepts workers’ compensation benefits they forfeit the right to sue the employer for their injuries. However, it works in reverse as well. If a victim chooses to sue the employer for pain and suffering, they may not also claim workers’ compensation.
When does a wrongful death case go to trial?
When it comes to workplace wrongful death, there are several more factors a judge will consider. If surviving family members choose to pursue legal action against the the company, employer, or another employee whom is being held responsible for the death the court will need the “burden of proof”.
The following questions are some ways the court may establish the “burden of proof”:
- Did the employee die because of specific behavior in the workplace?
- Did the defendant knowingly cause pain and suffering to the employee prior to death?
- If the employee didn’t die, would they still have grounds for a lawsuit in regards to the accident?
These questions, from the surviving family’s perspective, would be the basis of the lawsuit. The party with injuries is always responsible for “burden of proof” in Personal Injury cases. An ethical, compassionate lawyer who handles these cases for clients regularly has the most experience. A lawyer with Board Certification is invaluable in workplace wrongful death cases.
How is OSHA doing their part in preventing workplace accidents?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the statistics for construction site-specific related deaths is staggering! Nearly 19%. OSHA lists the causes of the most common reasons for construction site employee deaths (dubbed a little too ominously “the fatal four”).
The “fatal four”, according to OSHA standards:
- Crush injuries (caught between or inside construction equipment)
- Blunt force injuries (struck by falling or swinging object not properly secured)
After losing a family member to workplace wrongful death, the legal side can be terrifying for families. Grieving their loss is difficult enough. Pursuing the company or individual responsible for the death can cause great mental anguish. Personal Injury lawyers will wrongful death experience are there to mitigate this type of pain and suffering.
Don’t forget Florida’s Statute of Limitations
After a workplace wrongful death, it’s important to determine whether the death is due to the negligence of another. Employer liability involving wrongful deaths is time sensitive and involves the Florida Statute of Limitations. No dollar amount replaces a family member, but lost wages and posthumous expenses can be devastating.
In a wrongful death claim, the Statute of Limitations begins when the family discovers through reasonable due diligence, cause of death. In the context of this article, this means a Personal Injury lawyer must establish how a victim was killed in in the workplace, under a timeframe that’s reasonable by law.