According to OSHA, 21.1% of all workplace fatalities in the U.S. occur in the construction industry. This is more than any other industry making it extremely dangerous to work in. OSHA has categorized the four most common types of injuries that are often fatal. These are known as the “fatal four” and include:
- Caught in between an object
- Struck by an object
Most family members who are grieving will not immediately thinking about taking legal action. It cannot ever completely rectify the mistake, nor can it bring back the victim; however, filing a claim or lawsuit could add closure to the situation. It may also provide financial relief for the grieving family and also prompt the liable parties to take the necessary measure to ensure nothing like this will happen again.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit
The following is generalized information that briefly explains the laws surrounding wrongful death construction accidents; specifically the difference between survivor action and wrongful death.
Two Types of Claims/Lawsuits
When a construction workers losses his or her life, there are usually two types of legal claims or lawsuits that can be filed:
- A survivor action; and,
- A wrongful death action.
In most scenarios, the family’s lawyer will file both types of claims. The differences between the two are:
Wrongful Death Action – When a wrongful death claim is filed, the family will likely argue that:
- The workered died due to negligence
- The deceased had immediate, or close, family
- The family suffered losses
- The liable party should be responsible for compensating the family
In wrongful death cases, the family is generally suing for the harm done to them rather than the harm done to the deceased. Damages may include:
- Loss in the quality of life
- Love of love
- Loss of emotional support
- Loss of financial support
Survivor Action – When a survivor claim is filed, the family of the person who dies may argue:
- Negligence was the cause of the workers death
- The worker experienced pain and suffering before they died, and because of the negligence
- Had the worker lived, he or she could have sued the liable party
- The liable party should be held responsible for the deceased workers pain and suffering
These types of claims are not necessarily appropriately named, because they are only available when a person loses their life. They are called so because the legal right to sue for compensation “survives” the workers death. Damages for a survivor action claim are similar to those of a wrongful death claim, and can be further explained by a lawyer.
Workers compensation is available in every state and allows workers to recover compensation from an insurance fund that employers pay into. These claims are based on a no-fault system which means there is no need to establish wrongdoing. In general, compensation from workers comp is much less than private claims and lawsuits. Whether or not family members can recover damages from workers comp after losing a loved one will depend on the laws of the state. You should talk with a lawyer to find out which laws apply to your situation.
If you have lost a loved one in a construction accident, and are considering filing a claim, lawsuit, and/or workers compensation, you are well advised to consult with experienced construction accident lawyers in Glendale, WI.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Hickey & Turim for their insight into construction accidents and wrongful death.