Wrongful Death at Work: Understanding Your Rights
When we’re at work, we expect to be safe. Even in high-risk occupations, there is an assumption that all precautions have been taken to ensure another day at work is simply another day at work. Sadly, there are thousands of fatal accidents at the workplace each year. When this happens, it’s important to speak with a wrongful death lawyer about potential legal action.
Attorney Lynn C. Harris has helped many families in the Salt Lake City and Provo, UT, areas seek legal compensation following the death of a loved one. Here, we’ll look at the chances of fatal workplace accidents. We’ll note common causes of these tragedies, and when surviving loved ones should speak with a lawyer about their case.
How Common Are Fatal Workplace Accidents?
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), there were 5,333 worker fatalities in the private sector in 2019. To put that in perspective, OSHA notes that this breaks down to about 100 workers dying on the job every week, or roughly 15 workers each day.
High-risk Professions for Catastrophic Accidents
Construction work is one of the most high-risk professions for workplace accidents. OSHA notes that 1,061 construction workers died on the job in 2019. That accounts for roughly 20 percent of all workplace fatalities that year.
In addition to construction, other high-risk professions and industries include:
- Steel and iron work
- Fishing-related jobs
- Trucking and commercial driving
- Farming and agriculture
- Electrical work and repair
- Industrial manufacturing
- Landscaping and groundskeeping
Common Types of Fatal Workplace Injuries
In construction, OSHA has identified four main causes of fatal injuries. These are known as the Fatal Four, and are as follows:
- Being struck by equipment or machines
- Electrocution and electrical injuries
- Being caught in or caught between objects at a workplace
In addition to the Fatal Four identified by OSHA, other potential causes of fatal workplace injuries include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Brain injuries and head trauma
- Exposure to hazardous materials
What Causes Fatal Workplace Injuries?
In many of these cases, some form of negligence contributes to the fatal accident. This may include lack of safety equipment, poor supervision, inadequate training, or a failure to follow safety standards. When fatal injuries involve vehicles or machinery, a lack of maintenance or repairs on equipment may have caused or contributed to the accident.
Who Was Liable for the Workplace Accident?
Proving liability in a workplace accident can be difficult, which is why it’s important to speak with an attorney about your case. A wrongful death lawyer can review the circumstances of the fatal accident and determine if the employer or a third party contributed to the unsafe conditions at the workplace.
Legal Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When filing a wrongful death case following a fatal workplace accident, both compensatory and punitive damages may be sought.
Compensatory damages will cover material and financial losses associated with the death of a loved one. This includes medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering from the surviving family members or loved ones.
Punitive damages are sought in order to punish the negligent party in an accident. These are not tied to any material losses, but help deter similar actions that could prove fatal in the future.
Speak with a Wrongful Death Attorney
If you live in the greater Salt Lake City area and have lost a loved one while they were on the job, we can help you understand potential legal options. To speak with a skilled wrongful death attorney about your case, we encourage you to schedule a consultation online or call our office at (801) 375-9801.