Wrongful Death in the Workplace

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The emotional, mental, and financial ripples of a loved one’s death can last for many years after their passing. At Schaffer & Associates LPA, we can help protect your family’s financial stability as you grieve the loss of your loved one. Our experienced injured at work attorneys have secured major settlements for families across Northwest Ohio, and we will devote our resources to giving you every advantage possible in your family’s fight for justice. If you are currently navigating the stress and trauma of losing a loved one to a wrongful death in the workplace accident, you are not alone. Consider connecting with us at (419) 350-8277 today to discuss your situation with our team. 

Common Causes of Workplace Death Accidents

Employers are responsible for creating a safe, hazard-free work environment. Nonetheless, workplace death accidents still occur. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one worker loses their life every 111 minutes due to a workplace incident or injury. Some of the most common causes of a wrongful death in the workplace include: 

  • Car and truck accidents—Every year, nearly 43,000 fatal car accidents occur (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) and nearly 5,000 large trucks are involved in fatal accidents (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). Workplace car and truck accidents can result in devastating financial and emotional losses for the loved ones of victims. 
  • Slip and fall accidents—Serious slip and fall accidents are more common than many people realize. These accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, from slippery floors to hazardous clutter in walkways. For workers in certain industries, such as construction and warehousing, falls are the leading cause of death
  • Falling objects—Hundreds of workplace deaths happen every year due to workers being struck by falling objects. The majority of incidents with falling objects are the consequence of human error or inadequate safety protocols in the workplace.
  • Heavy equipment and machinery accidents—It is not uncommon for heavy machinery to overturn, tip, or flip, causing severe injury or death to the workers involved in the incident. 
  • Defective tools—Manufacturers and other parties along the supply chain can be held accountable for the deaths caused by their products. At Schaffer & Associates LPA, our work injury lawyers help families secure compensation via survivors’ benefits or product liability claims, if possible.
  • Electrical accidents—Exposure to electricity continues to be one of the leading causes of workplace deaths in the country. Electrical accidents can happen as a result of contact with electrical currents, inadequate safety training, improper guarding and grounding, etc.  
  • Fires—Explosions and fires are among the main causes of fatalities in the workplace, particularly for electrical workers, factory workers, and welders.
  • Chemical exposure—Exposure to respiratory hazards and dangerous toxins can result in disease and death. Moreover, the long-term effects of prior chemical exposures also have a great impact on the health and livelihood of workers. 
  • Workplace violence—Certain industries, such as healthcare, service, and education, are more prone to workplace violence than others. Make no mistake, however, workplace violence can happen anywhere and is one of the leading causes of death in the workplace.
  • Safety violations—Every day, workers die due to hazardous conditions in the workplace. If your loved one was the victim of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation. 

What Benefits Are Available for Family Members Who Have Lost a Loved One in a Workplace Accident?

If your loved one was involved in a fatal workplace accident, you may be entitled to certain survivors’ benefits. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) provides two different types of benefits depending on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death: 

  • Accrued compensation: If your loved one was collecting workers’ compensation due to a workplace injury or illness at the time of their death, then you may be eligible to receive the unpaid portion of their benefits. 
  • Death benefits: Long-term death benefits may be available for surviving spouses and qualifying children. Death benefits may also include funeral and medical expenses.

It is important to note that in most cases, workers are prohibited from suing their employers because they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, if a worker dies as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, their surviving family members may be able to file a separate lawsuit for wrongful death under certain circumstances. 

What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?

Workers’ compensation benefits were designed to protect employers from being sued over job-related injuries or illnesses, even if the employer contributed to a hazardous work environment. In most situations involving a wrongful death in the workplace, workers’ compensation death benefits are the sole remedy for surviving family members. Under extenuating circumstances, however, you may have grounds to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recover full compensation. 

If the workplace death was caused by the negligent actions of another individual or entity other than the employer, the surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit against this third party. Section 2125.01 of the Ohio Revised Code states that if your deceased loved one would have had the right to file a claim for personal injury had they survived, then you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Compensation for intangible losses—like pain and suffering, loss of partnership, and reduced quality of life—is what sets a wrongful death lawsuit apart from workers’ compensation death benefits. Our team of experienced work injury lawyers will work with you to determine whether Ohio’s wrongful death laws pertain to your situation and advise you on the next steps in moving forward and recovering compensation.

What Are Ohio Death Benefits?

Ohio law has provided for the continued financial support of surviving family members. Ongoing death benefits may be paid to surviving family members—particularly the deceased worker’s spouse and children under the age of 18. Children between the ages of 18 and 25 may also receive benefits if they are full-time students. Moreover, adult children who are mentally or physically incapacitated may also be eligible for Ohio death benefits. 

Ohio death benefits are paid every two weeks, with the total value being divided among the qualifying dependents. Surviving spouses will receive benefits for life, unless he or she remarries. In the event that a spouse remarries, they will be given a final lump-sum payment equal to the amount that they would have received over the next two years. Children will continue to receive benefits until their 18th birthday, upon their graduation from a higher-education institution, or on their 25th birthday, depending on the situation.

How Can an Attorney Help With Gaining Benefits for Surviving Family Members?

After losing a loved one to a wrongful death in the workplace, surviving family members are left to cope with the significant emotional loss and financial hardships that follow. If you have recently lost a loved one in a workplace incident, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options as a family member. 

At Schaffer & Associates LPA, we leverage our decades of experience to surviving family members gain benefits. While benefits cannot bring your loved one back, they can help ease the financial stress you are experiencing in the wake of your family’s loss. To discuss your next steps with a compassionate and knowledgeable injured at work attorney, consider scheduling a free initial consultation with us at (419) 350-8277 today.