The importance of an experienced accident lawyer
It’s important to hire a Personal Injury lawyer with workplace accident and Wrongful Death experience as soon as it becomes safe (on the medical side) and feasible after an accident in which catastrophic bodily injury, or a death occurred as a result of another's actions on the job. An experienced Personal Injury lawyer will be understanding and compassionate to the family’s grief and ensure the legal process doesn’t cause them further emotional anguish. An experienced lawyer knows how to protect the rights of the decent and their surviving family members.
Lawsuit or workman's compensation?
In the case of serious bodily injury that does not result in death, the victim has a very difficult decision to make (this decision can be made by surviving family members in the event of a Wrongful Death): does the injured employee sue the employer at trial? Do they file for workers’ compensation benefits? In Florida, as in most other states, a victim who has suffered a workplace accident cannot do both.
In the state of Florida, if a victim chooses to accept workers’ compensation benefits they forfeit the right to sue the employer at a later date for the accident, no matter that it was the employer's wrongdoing that caused the accident and resulting injuries. However, this decision works in reverse, too: if a victim chooses to proceed with litigation against the employer for their pain and suffering (as is their right to do), they cannot also claim workers’ compensation benefit in addition to the lawsuit.
What happens when a workplace injury or Wrongful Death case goes to trial?
When it comes down to wrongful death in the workplace, there are several other factors, should the case go to trial (and a lawyer should be prepared for this in these types of cases), that a judge will take into consideration. If surviving family members choose to pursue legal action against the defendant (i.e. the company, employer, or another employee whom is being held responsible for the death in a legal sense) the court will go to great lengths to establish the following before ordering any financial compensation be granted to the victim’s family:
- Did the employee die because of the defendant’s negligent behavior at the workplace?
- Did the defendant knowingly cause pain and suffering to the employee before their passing?
- Had the employee not passed away, would he or she have had grounds for a lawsuit in regards to the accident?
Important to remember: Within a Wrongful Death case, the Statute of Limitations clock is said to begin ticking down when the wronged party (the “plaintiff”, in wrongful death cases, the decedent's family) discovers through the reasonable due diligence of a skilled lawyer, the cause of the victim's death. In the context of this article, this would mean the lawyer must establish how a decedent passed away in a workplace accident in a timeframe that’s considered reasonable.
What happens after an accident or Wrongful Death in the workplace?
In the weeks following a catastrophic injury or tragic death in the workplace it’s important to determine whether the bodily injury or death occurred due to the negligence; namely was the employer responsible for the accident in which injuries or death occurred as a result? Employer liability involving wrongful deaths is a time-sensitive matter that must addressed within the statute of limitations in order to provide the maximum amount of compensation for the grieving family. No dollar amount will ever replace a family member, but lost wages and the strain of final expenses can wreak financial havoc, and therefore the most important thing to consider is legal representation to mitigate this mental anguish.