The term “wrongful death” is used when a person is killed due to another party’s negligence or misconduct. Workplace deaths often fall under the category of wrongful death. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, over 4,600 people are killed while performing their jobs each year. Losing a family member is devastating, and even more devastating if the deceased is the household’s breadwinner. When a death occurs in the workplace, the family members of the deceased are eligible to receive workers’ compensation and more. When the death was a result of negligence, the family may further be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In the case of a workplace death, workers’ compensation covers financial losses such as funeral expenses, loss of future income, medical bills accumulated prior to death, and legal fees. However, these amounts are capped and likely will not cover the drastic financial impact of losing a family member in full. Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit may go beyond the financial scope.
A wrongful death lawsuit usually cannot be filed against an employer if the family received workers’ compensation. However, if a legal team can show that a third-party was negligent, significant compensation can usually be won. Examples of a third party could include the driver who caused the accident, property owners whose negligence contributed to the death, or manufacturers of the faulty equipment that killed the worker.
Receiving benefits after the workplace death of a loved one can be more complicated than expected. If family members win both workers’ compensation and a wrongful death lawsuit, however, they may be granted significant settlements. These settlements may include weekly survivor’s benefits or a lump sum settlement.