Every year, there are nearly 3 million reported workplace accidents resulting in serious injuries, and more than 5,000 of these injuries are fatal, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The deadliest accidents are the result of explosions, fires, or toxic chemical exposure. In many cases, these incidents are the direct result of unsafe working conditions or defective machinery and equipment.
These terrible tragedies could have been prevented. When fatal accidents happen, surviving family members have the right to pursue legal action to recover damages for the losses they have endured.
Deadly workplace accidents are common in the U.S., with an average of 15 workers dying each day due to work-related injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The history of deadly workplace accidents in the U.S. goes back for more than 100 years. Examples of the deadliest accidents include the following:
In all of these cases, unsafe working conditions were the ultimate cause of these workers’ deaths. In the Deepwater Horizon oil spill alone, at least 50 wrongful death or personal injury cases were filed by survivors or relatives.
If a worker’s death is caused by a work-related injury or illness, family members may be eligible for benefits under Workers’ Compensation. Dependents who may be eligible for these benefits include widows, widowers, children under 18 years old, or students in school up to 23 years old. In addition, Workers’ Compensation can pay for some funeral expenses.
Workers’ Compensation laws are subject to change, and it is important for surviving family members to seek the assistance of a lawyer to understand their rights. Our skilled lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP help surviving family members determine whether they are entitled to death benefits. Also, we will help determine if a third party is responsible for the death.
When an employee dies in a workplace accident, surviving family members may think their rights are limited by Workers’ Compensation law. That is not always the case. If someone other than an employer is responsible for fatal injuries resulting from a deadly workplace accident, surviving family members can file a wrongful death suit against those third parties. Examples of potential third parties include manufacturers of unsafe equipment, distributors of dangerous chemicals, or contractors who install defective equipment.
A third-party claim allows surviving family members to recover damages not available under Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ Compensation shields employers from liability, but this legal protection does not apply to negligent third parties. For example, if defective equipment caused a workplace accident, the worker could pursue a products liability claim.
State law typically stipulates that a single personal representative of the deceased person’s estate file a wrongful death claim on behalf of all beneficiaries. Not every individual who lost a loved one can bring a wrongful death claim. The personal representative may be the executor of the estate or someone appointed by the court if the deceased individual did not have a will.
Beneficiaries typically include spouses, children, parents, brothers, sisters, other extended family members, or friends named in a will or trust document. Wrongful death claims can be filed within a specific time period. To ensure their legal rights to filing a wrongful death claim, surviving family members should speak with an experienced lawyer.
Over the years, Galfand Berger LLP has helped many surviving family members recover damages after a deadly workplace accident. We also go to great lengths to investigate deadly workplace accidents to determine whether these fatal injuries were due to negligence on the part of third parties.
The following two cases illustrate our success in obtaining significant client recoveries for deadly workplace accidents resulting from dangerous and defective industrial equipment:
While each case is different and results depend on specific circumstances, one factor remains the same. Our legal system provides injured workers and surviving family members with a means to seek recovery of damages for these tragic losses.
Losing a family member is always devastating. It can be even more unbearable when it is learned that your loved one’s death could have been prevented. If you have lost a loved one due to a deadly workplace accident, you have the right to seek damages from negligent parties. Our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP provide compassionate and skillful legal representation to surviving family members after deadly workplace accidents. Complete our online form or call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) to schedule a free consultation and to learn more today. We have offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.