If a loved one died as a consequence of a workplace incident, you may be wondering how you'd go about getting compensation. Many states have workers' compensation systems that allow surviving family members to pursue claims. You might wonder, though, if you should pursue a full-on wrongful death claim instead.
That can be a tricky issue to tackle, and it's wise to talk with a wrongful death lawyer before making a decision. Here are four times when a wrongful death attorney may encourage you to consider going this route.
The Role of Negligence
Generally, the incident in question has to rise to the level of negligence. If your loved one was simply hurt in the line of work while doing ordinary things that occur on the job site, you will probably have to work with the workers' comp system.
Negligence in the workplace is usually defined by normal expectations for promoting safety. Suppose someone had filed multiple reports about a piece of heavy equipment that had faulty brakes. Any incident arising from the failure to fix the brakes would probably be seen as negligent because a reasonable person would have wanted them fixed.
Disregard for Human Life
Wanton disregard is a common reason for a wrongful death claim to come from a workplace. For example, the supervisor at a welding business might have knowingly ordered a worker to weld inside a shipping container that had the potential to collect volatile gases. The welder turned on, and the gases ignited. In a scenario like that, a higher form of negligence occurred because the supervisor disregarded the obvious risk to the worker's life by telling them to move into a dangerous situation.
Patterns of Conduct
Repeatedly doing things that are dangerous can also become a source of a wrongful death case. Suppose the workers at a multistory construction site were prone to goofing around at the edge of the top of the structure. If management was aware of the conduct and dismissed it as simple horseplay, any death that eventually occurred might be seen as the natural extension of a pattern of disregard for workplace safety.
Some situations are so dangerous that the law applies strict liability. This means the minute something bad happens, the party in control of it is liable for 100% of damages. For example, if rocks thrown by an explosion at a worksite struck someone, that may be the basis for a wrongful death case.
To learn more, contact a wrongful death attorney.