A wrongful death suit is usually filed when a worker dies at a construction site. This lawsuit is filed by the concerned family members of the deceased. Besides as OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) puts it, most work site related deaths occur at construction sites. OSHA says that this is the industry with the highest death rate contributing to 18.5% of all work related deaths further listing top four causes of such deaths. And of all deaths in the construction industry, these four factors contribute to 57% of deaths in the construction industry. The four factors being:
- Struck by objects at the construction site or
- Caught in between machines and other equipments at the work site.
Though most family members of the deceased worker never think of filing a lawsuit immediately after the death of their relative, this is recommended. Though the lawsuit cannot bring their relative back, they should seek legal recourse especially if death occurred due to negligence.
Here is an overview of laws concerning deaths that arise from construction cases and the course of action that can be taken. These laws also clearly state the difference between a wrongful death and a course of action a worker can take if he survives a work site accident. These laws define how a worker’s compensation may affect the case.
Wrongful Death and Survivor Actions
Usually when a worker dies from injuries sustained after a work-related accident, two types of wrongful death suits can be filed:
- A wrongful death or
- A survivor action
In these lawsuits the types of damages awarded differ and most family members of the deceased worker prefer filing for both claims.
Wrongful Death Actions
The family of the deceased worker has the following arguments to present when filing for the above claim:
- Their loved one died because the defendant was negligent
- The deceased worker was closely related to them
- The death of their loved one caused them so much pain and suffering.
The defendant should then compensate the dead worker’s family members. Note that the family members of the deceased are not suing for harm caused to the dead worker but want to be compensated for their own loss following the death of their close relation.
They can file for damages under the following grounds:
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of love and emotional support and
- Loss of financial support.
The above claim can be filed by the family members of the deceased worker on grounds that:
- The defendant’s negligence resulted to death.
- Through pain and suffering caused by such negligence, the worker died.
- Had the deceased worker survived he would have sued the defendant for his pain and suffering.
- The worker dying does not mean that the defendant should not be held accountable.
In survivor action when a person dies, his right to file a wrongful death suit does not die with him too. This right passes on to those who remain after his death who can seek to be compensated for the pain and suffering their loved underwent.
Workers Compensation Laws In A Wrongful Death Suit
Though in normal courts an injured worker under workers’ compensation laws is prevented from suing his employer, he can still be compensated for his injuries. This is through the insurance fund to which his employer pays into. The injured worker will however receive less in damages in a normal court under workers’ compensation claim because it is believed that no one is directly responsible for the accident.
If you are wondering how compensation laws affect a wrongful death or survivor action claim, the answer is not simple because the laws apply differently in each state.
Workers Compensation Rules Differ From State To State
In some states, there are courts whose award to the family of the deceased worker is not affected by the workers’ compensation law. In such courts, close relations of the dead worker can seek compensation either in a wrongful death or survivor actions.
Some states however apply this rule and workers can sue their employers. Therefore, here families seeking compensation will get less amount as compensation.
Where the family expects limited compensation, they can sue other parties. In scenarios where an independent firm is contracted to offer a service, the direct contractor that hired them will be held responsible for deaths. The direct employer of the workers employed by the independent firm however has limited liability due to workers’ compensation laws. The family members can file a wrongful death suit against the general contractor not covered by the such laws.
Hiring A Wrongful Death Lawyer
As much as workers’ compensation laws vary by state and are complex so before you delve into such cases, it is important that you hire a professional lawyer with knowledge in construction accident cases in Providence.