When a Life is Lost on a Construction Site
1 in every 5 workplace deaths occur on construction sites in the U.S. Working construction of any kind can be a dangerous job, but that’s why certain safety protocols and procedures are put in place — to minimize risk to workers and create grounds for seeking compensation when an avoidable accident does occur. If you’ve lost a loved to a construction accident that could have been prevented, you may have a wrongful death claim.
The Duty of the Construction Company
The laws that govern construction site safety in the U.S. are the federal regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The laws administered by OSHA are federal, but they’re applicable to each individual state, including Florida. They specifically require that employers provide their employees with working conditions that are free from preventable hazards.
Florida’s OSHA equivalent is the Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP). They’re managed by the Florida Department of Health and focus on setting and enforcing health and safety guidelines to all employers in the state of Florida, not just construction companies. But given the inherent dangers often associated with different types of construction work, much of their regulation focuses on this industry. They review work-related injuries, illness, and death in an effort to reduce the risks that caused them, whether mechanical or biological in nature.
It is the utmost responsibility of the construction company owners and their foremen or supervisors to make decisions that protect each worker’s health and safety. They do so by ensuring their project site is in direct compliance with OSHA and OHSP regulations. When these regulations are not properly adhered to and the death of one of their employees results from that negligence, the victim’s beneficiaries may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim.
Possible Multiple Claims
When someone dies performing the duties asked of them on a construction site, their family may be entitled to more than one type of compensation. Workers’ compensation can provide benefits to the victim’s immediate family members in order to compensate for their family’s lost wages, necessary life expenses, and other losses that result from the death of their loved one. Many workers’ compensation claims are filed by employees who were injured on the job and need compensation to pay for their medical recovery and missing wages while they can’t work, but workers’ compensation claims can also be filed by a deceased worker’s family. Most often a spouse will make the claim out of the need to replace the wages lost to their family.
However, in the case of a wrongful death on a construction site, if there’s reason to believe that some type of negligence, reckless behavior, or wrongful act performed by the construction company was the cause of death, action could go far beyond making a workers’ comp claim. The situation may also warrant a lawsuit.
Litigation for wrongful death due to a construction accident could result in even more compensation for the family left behind. It could include compensation for lost wages, but may also provide for end-of-life costs like medical and funeral bills, as well as other financial losses. A lawsuit could even result in retribution for pain and suffering. And if the wrongful death case shows particularly outrageous wrongdoing by the construction company, the situation may also call for punitive damages. These are damages assessed in order to punish the defendant for their conduct in a way that aims to deter others from engaging in conduct similar to the basis of the lawsuit at hand.
Your loved one’s wrongful death claim can result in deserved retribution for you and your family, but it could also be used to as a valuable lesson, hopefully creating safter regulations and environments for all construction workers. But that can only happen if the case is built and presented correctly.
Building Your Construction Death Case
After a devastating fatal construction site accident takes place, it may immediately become clear to those involved what action should have been taken to prevent the loss of life. Of course, by then it’s too late, and the damage is done. So now it’s time to right the wrong for the future safety of other employees, and compensate the family of those who weren’t protected. Both of these goals result from working with a legal team who knows how to properly build and represent your case.
First, it’s important to investigate the construction site while it’s in the same condition as it was when the accident happened. By the sheer force of their very purpose, construction sites are constantly changing, and that change happens fast. Company owners or site supervisors may attempt to cover up the dangerous situation that caused the accident, or it may even be fixed as part of the construction project itself. For this reason, time is of the utmost essence.
It will also be important to gather witness testimony of exactly what actions occurred that led to death. This testimony will most often come from fellow construction workers, supervisors, inspectors, or others who were on the site when the accident occurred.
Further evidence for building a case can come from a variety of industry experts — for example, third-party contractors who understand the “why” and the “how” of the construction project and the resulting accident, and can explain those as needed. It will also be necessary to gather medical records and testimony that demonstrates the injuries suffered, and how those resulted in death.
And finally, as with many cases of filing claims and lawsuits, there is a statute of limitations on the scenario of a wrongful death. In the state of Florida, that limitation is within two years of the date of death in most cases. That may sound like a large window, but given the investigation, research, and process involved, it’s not much time at all. If you’ve lost a loved one in a construction accident and aren’t sure yet whether or not negligence was a factor, it’s still in your family’s best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as you can. They can help you determine if you have a claim to file. That’s why The Whisler Law Firm offers entirely free consultations, and our clients pay us nothing unless we win their case for them.
Our team has extensive experience in a variety of workers’ compensation, personal injury, and wrongful death claims and lawsuits across the state of Florida. Take a look at some testimonials to see how we’ve helped people who were in a similar situation you may be experiencing. And if you’ve lost a loved one in a construction accident and believe you may have a claim to file against their employer, call us at 833-529-5677 or contact us here so we can review your case.