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Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim Due to Unsafe Working Conditions

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Losing a loved one due to unsafe conditions on a job site is a devastating tragedy. This is because, far too often, dangerous work environments lead to fatalities that could have and should have been prevented. 

Pursuing civil justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against an irresponsible employer is one of the only ways to achieve some accountability and better safety practices in the aftermath.

Building a strong liability case

The first priority when pursuing wrongful death claims in workplace accident cases is gathering irrefutable evidence of negligence and liability. 

With the help of a skilled attorney, you should conduct thorough investigations, take sworn statements from witnesses, demand company documentation, and consult closely with subject matter experts. 

Some common examples of employer violations that may contribute to employee deaths, and which you can prove, include:

Failure to remediate known dangers

If management was aware of previous close calls, injuries, safety complaints, or clear signs of danger but failed to take corrective actions, it demonstrates willful negligence. Past documentation or patterns of hazardous incidents require interventions to prevent loss of life – inaction shows a conscious disregard for safety.

Lack of adequate training and safety protocols

Every employee dealing with hazardous equipment or environments requires proper onboarding and ongoing training to control risks. Failing to clearly establish, document and monitor safety protocols indicates a purposeful lack of preparation that too often has deadly consequences.

Inadequate safety gear and protective equipment

Providing properly functioning safety equipment and protective gear suited for known hazards is the most fundamental responsibility of employers. When companies fail to supply proper masks, insulation, rigging, respirators, goggles, gloves, vests, hardhats, or other gear, it directly puts employees in harm’s way.

Prior OSHA violations and citations

If a company has a documented history of prior safety violations, injuries or citations issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors, it powerfully demonstrates negligence. Repeated violations indicate awareness of hazards coupled with an unwillingness to comply with regulations or rectify risks.

Disregard for accepted industry safety standards

Certain high-risk industries have well-established standards, best practices, safety management protocols and training procedures to control hazards. Failing to fully implement these known regulations demonstrates a reckless lack of regard for employee wellbeing.

History of similar accidents and previous injuries

Clear patterns of previous accidents or injuries caused by similar hazards illustrate a failure to learn from past mistakes. If a company is aware certain equipment, environments or procedures have repeatedly caused harm, continuing to expose employees to the same dangers highlights gross negligence.

Assembling such evidence requires thorough investigation by attorneys, demands for documentation, subpoenas, sworn statements, testimony from experts, and all other measures to compel facts. 

But establishing such legal culpability is essential for justly assigning accountability where it belongs – upon companies that knowingly violate safety regulations and consciously disregard hazards even after being made aware.

Common damages sought in wrongful death claims

Beyond pursuing rightful accountability for negligence, monetary damages seek to address the real-world economic and emotional losses survivors face after losing their loved ones. This money can never replace the life lost, but it can provide some stability to grieving families. 

Typical damages sought in cases where a death was due to a work-related injury include:

Lost income, benefits and earning potential

This includes all salaries, health insurance, pensions, pay increases, retirement contributions, social security benefits and any other proven future income sources lost when the breadwinner dies prematurely due to negligence. Expert witnesses accurately calculate and validate total lifetime earning potential.

Medical expenses from injuries

If the worker survived for any duration after the incident, reimbursement for ambulance transportation, emergency room treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medications and rehabilitation services may be justified.

Funeral and burial costs

The people who caused the early death should pay for funeral homes, cemetery plots, headstones, transportation of the remains, and other end-of-life costs.

Pain and suffering compensation

If negligence caused extended agonising injuries prior to death, additional damages for trauma, pain and emotional distress experienced by the deceased employee serve as a punishment to the company.

Loss of companionship, guidance, and support

Monetary compensation accounts for the profound emptiness left by the death in terms of loving companionship, guidance, nurturing, and daily support survivors depended upon – now forever gone. Calculating emotional damages may consider many factors related to the closeness of kinship.

Additionally, if truly outrageous, intentional or malicious negligence is uncovered, punitive damages may be justified on top of compensatory awards as further punishment to prevent future egregious acts against employees.

While no amount of money could ever replace a lost loved one, collecting rightful compensation through wrongful death claims can at least provide some financial stability for families. It can fund grief counselling, living expenses, education costs, mortgage payments and other necessities survivors now face in the absence of their beloved family member.

Navigating strict statute of limitations

Each state has laws establishing strict time limitations for filing wrongful death lawsuits, typically ranging from 1-4 years depending on jurisdiction. Meeting these filing deadlines is essential or survivors forfeit their right to pursue civil claims regardless of how clearly negligence caused the death.

Therefore, consulting an attorney immediately after losing a loved one due to employer negligence is extremely important. Exceptions for minors may apply in some areas, but statutes of limitation are complex legal issues that require urgent guidance from qualified local counsel.

Successfully resolving wrongful death lawsuits

The majority of clearly valid legal claims are settled confidentially out of court once the pre-trial evidence-gathering process concludes. 

Skilled negotiators understand that even the most callous insurance companies and defence attorneys eventually calculate that going before an unpredictable jury carries significant financial risks for defendants in strong liability cases.

Therefore, experienced plaintiff attorneys can often secure full insurance policy limits from corporations, aiming to avoid further discovery revelations, unpredictable jury verdicts and costly legal defence fees mounting through a trial. And if reasonable settlement offers do not materialise, they prepare to try their cases meticulously before juries by proving liability for the death, validating damages through experts, and passionately advocating for justice.

Holding negligent parties fully accountable and financially responsible does give grieving families a productive outlet for their anger and frustration, even though the legal system cannot erase the painful tragedy they have experienced. Secured compensation can also allow families to redirect energy towards healing rather than being forced to struggle with financial burdens heaped upon their grief.

And in many cases, public trials and media coverage can shine a vital spotlight on unsafe industries lagging in regulatory compliance and hazard controls. Success in court can force much-needed scrutiny and safety reforms that save other lives – providing some redemption to lost loved ones by protecting future workers from preventable deaths.

Takeaway

Losing someone on the job due to preventable hazards and corporate negligence should never occur. Yet when it does, families deserve more than condolences and investigations that go nowhere. 

By demanding justice for wrongful death through compassionate and ethical legal professionals, grieving loved ones have the power to force changes that make workplaces safer while delivering some rightful accountability against those who callously allow profits to outweigh human life.

Succeeding with litigation does not bring back deceased breadwinners into struggling households. But legal victories can improve hazardous worksite conditions, assist families financially, force corporate reforms, and enact a bit of justice against companies that violate safety regulations known to protect employees. 

Survivors who choose to fight back send a powerful message through their grief. One that nudges industries towards more ethical boardrooms and safer job sites while honouring lives needlessly lost.




Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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