Fatal Workplace Accidents in Dallas
Wrongful Death Information Pertaining to Work-Related Fatality Accidents in Dallas, Texas
When a person is killed, Texas' wrongful death laws typically allow the deceased's family to bring two claims against the offending party. The first is for the emotional and economic damages they've suffered as a result of their loved one's death, and the second is a claim on behalf of the deceased's estate for the injuries the deceased suffered that led to his death.
Covered in This Article
- Don't All Companies Have Workers' Compensation?
- Nonsubscriber Work Fatality Cases
- Workers' Compensation and Workplace Fatality Cases
- Gross Negligence and Workers' Compensation Wrongful Death Claims
- 3rd Party Wrongful Death Claims
However, there are certain subsections of Texas law where a particular type of defendant that caused the deceased's death affects the deceased's surviving family member's ability to assert a wrongful death lawsuit. Texas work injury law is one such area. This article is designed to explain a surviving family member's rights under Texas' wrongful death and workplace accident laws if their loved one was killed in a workplace accident.
Ensure That Your Rights are Fully Protected
Since Texas' work injury laws are complex and your rights depend on your employer's participation in the Texas workers' compensation program, it's important that you contact a specialized Dallas workers compensation lawyer that can both identify whether your employer participates in workers' compensation, and also how to assert your rights regardless if your employer participates or not.
Don't All Companies Have Workers' Compensation?
In short, no; not all companies have workers' compensation. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, 44% of Texas companies don't subscribe to workers' compensation. If you thought that all Texas employers carry workers' compensation, you're not alone, as the overwhelming majority of the working public believes that their employer participates in workers' compensation and is thus automatically required to compensate them for their injuries.
In a wrongful death case involving a workplace accident, the fact that your loved one worked for a company that participated in Texas' workers' compensation program usually negatively affects your ability to receive full compensation for your injuries. Conversely, if your loved one worked for a company that chose not to participate in Texas' workers' compensation program, you are more likely to be fully compensated for your injuries, but only when you win your lawsuit.
In either case, you should be sure to avoid the mistake of assuming that your employer automatically participates in Texas' workers' compensation program. Our attorneys and staff at Grossman Law Offices have seen numerous cases where an employer pretends to participate in workers' compensation and then tells the surviving family members that they are only eligible for workers' comp death benefits (which are a mere drop in the bucket relative to what the case is actually worth) in an effort to limit their liability for a family's wrongful death claim.
Nonsubscriber Work Fatality Cases
In nonsubscriber workplace accident cases, injured parties are able to bring conventional wrongful death lawsuits against the deceased's employer. Texas' law limits the potential pool of wrongful death plaintiffs to surviving plaintiffs, parents, and minor children of the workplace accident victim. These parties will have to prove to a jury that their loved one's death was caused by the defendant's negligent acts; that is, that their loved one's employer or a coworker caused their death by failing to act within the minimal duty proscribed by Texas law.
In all cases, winning a wrongful death lawsuit against a non-subscribing employer is a challenging endeavor because the cases are highly technical and are dependent on the particular facts and evidence in a case. The best way to win a wrongful death case against the deceased's employer is to leverage a mountain of evidence against them. However, you should note that Texas employers always aggressively defend wrongful death workplace accident lawsuits, as many employers spend more than $100,000 to keep plaintiffs from prevailing in the lawsuit. For these reasons, you need to retain our experienced wrongful death workplace accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices. Our attorneys have more than two decades experience pursuing wrongful death claims from workplace accidents, and may be able to use their skill and experience to your advantage.
Workers' Compensation and Workplace Fatality Cases
If your loved one has died while on the work-site and their employer participates in workers' compensation, it will severely limit your family's ability to recover for your damages.
The primary way workers' compensation limits your recovery is by limiting who can receive death benefits. Specifically, only spouses and children who are under the age of 18 (unless they are college students) are granted death benefits under Texas' workers' compensation laws. These family members are entitled to receive a portion of their deceased family member's salary, but only until children become adults or the spouse remarries.
Unfortunately, family members have no chance of receiving a lump sum settlement under Texas' workers' compensation laws. However, there is a remote possibility of a large payout under very specific circumstances such as an employer was grossly negligent.
Gross Negligence and Workers' Compensation Wrongful Death Claims
As mentioned above, if the deceased's employer participates in Texas' workers' compensation program, certain family members may be able to receive benefits, but most are unable to receive compensation for their emotional damages. The only exception to this is when your attorneys can prove that the deceased's employer was grossly negligent. In doing so, Texas' wrongful death laws hold that the employer's immunity only extends to acts of ordinary negligence, and punitive damages may be available for the employer's gross negligence.
Our firm is one of the only firms that we know of that has successfully litigated wrongful death gross negligent claims and recovered punitive damages. Why is that?
Punitive damages are generally hard to achieve because juries are hesitant to award them and Texas law allows trial judges and appellate courts to reverse the jury's award of punitive damages. Moreover, a wrongful death attorney must successfully prove that the deceased's employer either acted with a reckless disregard to the known possibility that your loved one could die on the job or that the employer acted with the specific intent of harming your loved one.
Despite these roadblocks, our firm has recovered punitive damages in several cases. For example, our firm recovered punitive damages for a family of a man who was killed when using a piece of heavy equipment while working at 60 feet in the air and died when he hit the ground. We also obtained punitive damages for the wife of a man who was killed when he fell through the roof of a warehouse. Despite the fact that so few law firms have experience with winning punitive damages in wrongful death cases, Grossman Law Offices has considerable experience and is willing to help.
3rd Party Wrongful Death Claims
In the event that your loved one was killed on the job, but the act was caused by someone else besides their employer, you might be able to assert a 3rd party claim against the responsible party.
Claims against a 3rd party aren't precluded by workers compensation. For example, our Dallas workplace injury attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have successfully represented people in claims against manufacturers of heavy equipment that malfunctioned and caused their death in a traditional wrongful death lawsuit. Call us today, toll-free at 1-855-326-0000.