Each year, more than 4,500 workers die while on the job in the United States. A workplace fatality is usually devastating for dependents and other relatives. If the deceased employee was the sole provider, it could have huge financial implications for the family left behind. However, the law is on the side of the bereaved. It provides certain safeguards to ensure that they can continue with their lives in spite of the death.
What Personal Injury Lawyers Deal With
A common situation that personal injury lawyers face is wrongful death cases where the employer has blatantly flaunted OSHA regulations. However, it is almost impossible to sue employers even when they do that. For one, the law grants them immunity from compensation.
Although it is possible to hold the employer accountable, it is quite difficult. It requires a witty lawyer and a client willing to slug it out with the employer. Sadly, employers do at times get away with manslaughter. The law leans heavily in their favor.
What is Possible?
If an employer participates in a worker’s compensation scheme and they have enough insurance, they have limited liability when an employee dies. To get compensation, the bereaved file for the no-fault insurance, with the employer going away scot-free.
For now, the system works quite well. It is better that the system that was there before. In the 19th century and sometime in the 20th century, things were quite different. Employers would have some fine legal minds and take the complainants on a roller coaster ride through the court. At the end of it, most people would quit and accept that they were doomed to a life of misery.
However, that does not mean the compensation scheme that is now in place is perfect. For one, there is a moral hazard created by it. For one, the employer does not feel obligated to install the best safety measures since it would cost them money.
Additionally, the compensation system itself can be a legal minefield. The bereaved can end up being stuck in the system for years as they await the legal issues to be sorted out. Thus, it is necessary to have a lawyer by your side to get things done efficiently.
For one, the insurance companies that run these compensation schemes are no eager to pay off everyone who files a claim. They usually take the complainant in circles, and after exhausting them enough, they offer a low-ball settlement to keep them away.
Although the compensation system was created to reduce litigation, it has turned quite litigious in recent years. However, now only employees face the burden of litigation. Employers cunningly managed to extricate themselves from the entire process. In short, the compensation system is fair but not perfect.
What Compensation Lawyers Do
A personal injury lawyer will advise his client his client to avoid going through the compensation system. It is especially so in wrongful death where there are not long-term medical expenses. It would be great if the laws were tweaked to abolish full immunity for employers. Indeed, that has happened in some states, although not enough of them.
Suing the employer is so difficult that lawyers do not even bother. Instead, they will go for a two-pronged approach. Firstly, he or she will file a no-fault claim in the compensation system. Secondly, the lawyer will focus on reviewing the case in its entirety.
For instance, when the subcontractor dies during a job, the lawyer will look at the safety standards of the general contractor. Additionally, he or she will look at what responsibilities, engineers, architects, and builders in relation to the safety of the site.
For instance, if a person moves heavy objects without training and is crushed to death, it would be very difficult to sue the employer. However, there is a loophole. The maker of the heavy machinery has some explaining to do. For instance, what do the safety reports about its stability indicate?
If the lawyer can find fault with the equipment manufacturer, he or she can launch a lawsuit on behalf of his client. At times, it may not always work out like that. In fact, lawyers turn down wrongful death cases quite often.
However, it is important for the bereaved not to give up hope. It is important to keep in mind that each lawyer’s opinion is their own. It does not represent what will happen in general. It is important to conduct research before visiting a lawyer. It helps you to understand how viable the case you are about to launch is.
Look for Experience over Price
Wrongful death compensation is quite complex. A novice lawyer may not be able to navigate through all the legal loopholes that exist for those being sued. If you want to be compensated successfully, it is important to look for a lawyer with a lot of experience.