Construction Worker Wrongful Death Accidents can be Very Challenging, but Our Attorneys Can Help
Construction is one of the most dangerous professions a man or woman can join. There are many areas in Texas where someone in the construction profession can ply their craft. It seems that one area of town or another is always under construction.
A tragic consequence of progress, however, is a construction accident that costs a worker his or her life. When you take into account the plethora of construction projects going on, and the inherent dangers involved with work surrounding construction sites, deaths are almost inevitable.
A construction fatality is a devastating event for all of those involved, but it’s obviously even more catastrophic for the family members of the victim. If your family has suffered the loss of a loved one, the attorneys at our Law Office are all too aware of how shattering an experience it is. We are well aware, however, that the accident that led to the death of your family member is but the start of your problems. The remaining family members must not only deal with their emotional loss, but also the uncertainty and stress surrounding the accompanying process of potential litigation. The first thing a family needs to consider in determining what legal avenues they may be able to pursue, and whether or not to employ the services of a wrongful death attorney. For two decades, our attorneys have handled construction wrongful death claims in Texas. We would like to give you guidance in terms of how to proceed with the legal process and all the complexities that lie in front of you and your family. We want to educate you in regard to the options you have in seeking fair restitution for your loss, and the obstacles that will be placed along your way to obtaining it.
As cruel and harsh as it might seem, just because your family member died, that in no way guarantees you will be able to obtain just compensation. The majority of construction wrongful death cases go to trial, and the surviving family members, known as the plaintiffs, are required by law to carry the burden of proof in determining the responsible party’s negligence. The laws surrounding such litigation are difficult enough for inexperienced lawyers to comprehend. For someone with no legal background whatsoever, the can seem like they’re written in a foreign language. Because of this, you and your family require the assistance of a trial-tested wrongful death attorney to help secure just restitution and justice for the deceased. No amount of money, of course, will bring your beloved back to you or come anywhere close to compensating you for your loss. However, a skillful lawyer can bring the responsible parties to justice and make them accountable for their negligence.
Most of the time in the event of a construction fatality, family members of the deceased can receive compensation from workers’ compensation insurance. But that doesn’t mean the construction company’s insurance provider will automatically give you the compensation you deserve. If the deceased’s employer chose not to buy workers’ comp insurance, your only recourse at getting restitution will likely be through a lawsuit. As stated before, the components of wrongful death litigation are extremely complex to comprehend, so you need someone with the necessary legal expertise to assist during the entirety of the process, helping you determine what sort of claim to file and giving you an idea of how much compensation you may obtain.
Construction Site Fatalities
If you lost a family member due to a construction site accident, you must first determine whether or not the construction company purchased workers’ compensation insurance, whether or not your family member was considered an employee of the company according to the eyes of the law, and, most importantly, if the negligence of the construction company led to the fatal accident. There are myriad questions that need to be answered, and many aspects of the case to prove. Your family needs a wrongful death attorney who knows how to investigate this kind of accident to provide the answers to those crucial questions and to devise an effective plan in order to secure equitable compensations, no matter the circumstances of the case.
Subscriber vs. Non-Subscriber
The way your case is handled depends almost entirely on whether the construction company either purchased, or “subscribed” to, worker’s compensation, or chose not to pay for workers’ comp insurance, and is, therefore, a “non-subscriber.” There is a vast difference in the manner in which claims are handled between the two.
The State of Texas strongly encourages companies of all types to purchase workers’ compensation insurance in order to stem the tide of lawsuits involving injuries or death, lawsuits that further choke an already exceedingly over-burdened legal system. Thus, when an employer purchases workers’ comp, it’s getting more than just insurance – it’s buying lawsuit protection. The reason is simple, family members of those killed in construction accidents cannot sue a subscribing company unless gross negligence occurred. Workers’ comp is designed to compensate loved ones for the loss of a family member, however, a lot of times insurance companies will attempt to goad you into settling for an offer that doesn’t come close to compensating you for the tragedy you and your family have experienced.
Insurance providers are in business for one reason – to make money. They are not concerned with helping you and your family heal from your devastating loss. If there’s any way they can get you to accept less money, they will make more money. Hundreds of families of construction workers who die due to a workplace accident in Texas either see their claims flat-out denied or significantly under-cut, all in the name of making the insurance company more money.
Most insurance companies respect only negotiations with lawyers. If a representative of an insurance provider walks into a negotiating room and sees someone sitting at the table without legal help, he or she will probably laugh quietly, then celebrate later after you have settled for a ludicrously low amount of money. You simply must have an experienced lawyer on your side if you have any intention of getting fair restitution.
There are only two instances where family members of a loved one wrongfully killed in a construction accident can sue a subscribing company:
If the death occurred due to the gross negligence of the construction company.
When there may be more than one party in addition to the employer that may be to blame for the wrongful death. Other employees, other contractors, or independent third parties that provided malfunctioning equipment could be liable for either all or part of the death and a lawsuit may be filed against them as well.
A skilled wrongful death attorney is very familiar with examining all of the details surrounding a case and formulating a plan of attack to get the compensation you have coming. The attorneys at our Law Firm will immediately launch an investigation of the accident scene to determine what third parties may share responsibility and make them all pay dearly for your family’s tragic loss.
Gross Negligence Defined
Again, the only way you can sue a company that is a workers’ compensation subscriber it by proving its gross negligence led to the death of your family member. Instances such as the momentary lapse of focus or reason, or an isolated error, are considered standard negligence and are protected by workers’ comp. But if either an employer or one of its employees habitually displays recklessness or carelessness in the performance of their duty to protect others, that is considered gross negligence. Say a fellow worker accidentally knocks a cinder block off the roof of a building and crushes an employee standing below. This is an example of standard negligence. But if the construction company habitually allows a construction site to pose a hazard due to debris constantly lying around, and other objects have repeatedly been knocked from the building, then that is gross negligence. The worksite’s foreman should have been reasonably able to anticipate the possibility that a fatal accident could have been a consequence of that hazardous environment.
One of our clients was the family member of a construction worker who died when his boss ordered him to work on a crane without a properly functioning safety harness. Not only did the worker’s harness malfunction and cause him to fall to his death, but the owner of the company also had the sheer audacity to race to a nearby hardware store, buy a new harness, and attach it to the corpse before the death was even reported. Because we undertook an investigation and interviewed other workers who were at the scene, we were able to expose the owner’s callous attempt at a cover-up.
In order for your family’s wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side who can strategize a rock-solid case that can meet the high standards necessary to prove gross negligence.
Because a non-subscribing company did not purchase workers’ comp insurance, the only way to gain restitution is through a lawsuit. In this case, however, the plaintiff needs only prove the occurrence of standard negligence to win restitution, and standard negligence has a much lower standard of proof.
The State of Texas, in effect, punishes non-subscribers by making it easier for a plaintiff to win a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the litigation involved in such a case can be much more intricate and emphasizes, even more, your need to have an experienced attorney on your side. Not only must the plaintiffs in this kind of case prove their loved one’s death was due to the company’s standard negligence, but they must also prove the amount of compensation they are trying to obtain is fair and just.
The compensation associated with wrongful death damages include:
Medical and funeral expenses as a result of the construction fatality.
Financial support provided by the victim lost as a result of his or her death.
The mental and emotional trauma as a result of the family member’s death.
The consortium and love provided by the deceased cannot be replaced.
Restitution for survival damages include:
Medical expenses arising as a result of the construction site accident.
Salary lost while the victim would have been hospitalized, or salary that would have been lost by the victim because of long-term disabling injuries caused by the accident.
The mental and emotional turmoil that the deceased would have experienced had he or she survived.
The physical pain and suffering experienced by the deceased.
Hurdles in Obtaining Wrongful Death Case Compensation
Non-subscribing companies have very few options in trying to avoid paying a construction wrongful death claim, because, as stated above, the State of Texas designed workers’ compensation laws to try and reduce the number of lawsuits, and thus strongly encourage companies to subscribe. But even a non-subscriber has a couple of tools it can try to utilize to defeat a wrongful death claim.
This Blog was posted By The Carabin & Shaw Law Firm. principle Office in San Antonio, Texas