A workplace wrongful death claim is a legal action taken by the surviving family members of an individual who has died due to a workplace-related incident. When an employee dies on the job or as a result of conditions related to their work, the family may file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation to cover financial losses and emotional distress. In California, families of those who have died in workplace accidents are entitled to workers compensation death benefits. However, those benefits are not nearly robust enough to cover immediate and future expenses for family members. This is why it may be wise for families to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault parties when the workplace death is caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. A workplace wrongful death claim will seek additional compensation to cover all of a loved one’s losses.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
Under California law, only certain individuals are allowed to file a workplace wrongful death lawsuit. The relevant statute specifically allows family members or dependents of the deceased worker, such as spouses, children, parents, or other financially dependent individuals to bring a wrongful death claim.
To pursue a workplace wrongful death claim, certain conditions typically need to be met:
- Employer negligence: A workplace wrongful death claim requires evidence that the employer—or another party responsible for maintaining a safe working environment— acted negligently or failed to uphold their duty to provide a safe workplace.
- Causal Link: It must be demonstrated that the death was a direct result of the workplace conditions, negligence, or actions of the employer.
- Damages: The claimants should be able to show that they have suffered financial and emotional damages as a result of the worker’s death.
- Time Limits: There are specific time limits, known as statutes of limitations, within which a wrongful death claim must be filed. These limits vary by jurisdiction, but in California, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. If you are bringing a wrongful death claim against a governmental agency, a “notice of claim” must be filed with the entity within 180 days of the decedent’s death.
- Legal Process: The legal process for filing a wrongful death claim involves preparing and filing necessary paperwork, gathering evidence to support the claim, and potentially going through negotiations or court proceedings.
The laws and regulations related to workplace wrongful death claims vary by jurisdiction and country. If you are considering pursuing a workplace wrongful death claim, it’s wise to consult with a wrongful death attorney who specializes in these cases. Wrongful death attorneys are in the best position to help you understand your specific legal rights and options.
What happens if the workplace wrongful death claim is successful?
A successful wrongful death claim means the family will receive compensation for economic damages, which may include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages that the deceased would have earned and other financial damages. Additionally, non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress, may also be accounted for.
What does a wrongful death claim cover?
The types of compensation that can be sought in a wrongful death claim vary depending on the jurisdiction, the specific circumstances of the case, and the applicable laws. However, some common types of compensation that surviving family members might seek in a wrongful death claim include both economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for medical costs related to the deceased person’s injury or illness before their death
- Funeral and Burial Costs: Reimbursement for expenses associated with the deceased person’s funeral and burial or cremation
- Loss of Financial Support: Compensation for the financial contributions the deceased would have provided to their dependents had they survived, including lost income, benefits, and other forms of financial support
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress experienced by the deceased person before their death
- Loss of Consortium: Compensation for the loss of companionship, emotional support, and intimacy suffered by the surviving spouse or partner
- Loss of Care and Guidance: Compensation for the loss of guidance, care, and nurturing that a parent would have provided to their children
- In some cases, if the responsible party’s actions were particularly reckless, malicious, or grossly negligent, punitive damages might be awarded. These damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.
To explore filing a wrongful death claim in California, call the offices of John J. Perlstein for a free consultation. They’ll listen to you and help you understand your rights as a potential plaintiff filing a wrongful death claim [California].
Examples of situations that could potentially lead to a workplace wrongful death claim
These examples illustrate various scenarios where inadequate safety measures, negligence, or other forms of misconduct in the workplace could lead to a fatal incident and be the basis for a workplace wrongful death claim.
Construction Site Accident: A construction worker is killed on the job due to a collapsing scaffold that was not properly maintained or secured. The worker’s family could file a wrongful death claim against the construction company for failing to ensure a safe work environment.
Industrial Machinery Malfunction: An employee working in a factory is fatally injured when a piece of industrial machinery malfunctions due to lack of maintenance. The family could file a claim against the manufacturer of the machinery, alleging that the defect led to the worker’s death.
Exposure to Hazardous Substances: An employee develops a fatal illness, such as lung cancer, due to prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals or substances in the workplace. The family might file a wrongful death claim against the employer, asserting that inadequate safety measures and protective equipment contributed to the worker’s illness and death.
Commercial Vehicle Accident: A delivery truck driver is killed in a motor vehicle accident while performing work-related duties. If the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver or due to poor vehicle maintenance by the employer, the driver’s family could pursue a wrongful death claim.
Medical Malpractice: In the case of a healthcare worker, if a hospital fails to provide proper training, equipment, or guidelines, and a worker contracts a fatal illness while treating patients, the family could potentially file a wrongful death claim against the hospital for negligence.
Slip and Fall Accident: A maintenance worker falls from a height due to inadequate safety measures or faulty equipment, resulting in fatal injuries. The family may file a wrongful death claim against the property owner or employer for not ensuring a safe work environment.
Violence in the Workplace: If an employee is killed as a result of workplace violence, such as a robbery gone wrong, the family might file a wrongful death claim if they can prove that inadequate security measures contributed to the incident.
Electrocution: An electrician is electrocuted while working on a faulty electrical system. The family could bring a wrongful death claim against the employer, alleging that proper safety protocols were not followed.
Why should you consult a wrongful death lawyer?
Remember, a wrongful death settlement is not just about money. It’s often also about getting justice and holding wrongdoers accountable. In a workplace wrongful death case, defendants may include construction companies, contractors, sub-contractors, property owners, and manufacturers of defective products. An experienced wrongful death attorney knows how to navigate the legal complexities of your case and negotiate on your behalf to achieve a fair resolution. He or she will look out for the best interests of your family and position you to receive the best possible settlement. A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney may also:
- request incident reports on your behalf
- gather evidence from the scene of the accident
- get medical records and other documentation in place
- communicate with the defendant and their insurance company on your behalf
- gather expert witnesses who can help bolster your claim
Reach Out to the Best Los Angeles Wrongful Death Law Firm
If you’re unsure whether your situation meets the criteria for a wrongful death claim, don’t just search up “Wrongful death attorneys near me” or “wrongful death attorney California.” Instead, reach out to someone with the depth and breadth of experience to help guide your claim to the best possible outcome.
John J. Perlstein is the best wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles and Orange County. With 25 years of experience, he has an impressive track record boasting several big wins on wrongful death and personal injury cases.
Losing a loved one to wrongful death and trying to track down compensation while grieving can be very hard. Our goal is to make this process easier for you. Our team of wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas will employ a personalized and communicative approach to your workplace wrongful death claim. The first step will be a free consultation, and our contingency fee basis means you don’t pay unless you win. We will help you receive full compensation for all damages caused, as well as the justice you and your family deserve.
Contact our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys today.