A Decatur-Morgan Hospital employee is dead as a result of an October accident. The employee was working on the freight elevator alone when it moved, crushing him. Because the man was working alone, there is no eye-witness account of the accident.
When an employee is injured in a workplace accident, a workers’ compensation claim is typically the only remedy available to the employee. Like an injury claim, death claims by surviving family members are also covered by workers’ compensation. In a case like the elevator accident, it may be unlikely that the man’s family will have a successful claim against the hospital outside of workers’ compensation, even if the hospital’s negligence caused his death.
Many people believe that workers’ compensation payouts, especially in the case of a fatal on-the-job accident, pay far less than the injury or death is worth. Does the family of a worker killed on the job have legal options beyond the workers’ compensation system?
Another source of recovery for the family can be people or companies other than the employer who had a responsibility to ensure the safety of the worker. For instance, in the elevator case, if an inspector missed an important flaw in the elevator and that failure caused the worker’s death, the family may have a right to recover against the inspector or the inspection company. Likewise, if the worker would have survived had medical personnel not made a grievous mistake, the family may have a claim against the doctor or hospital. In the elevator accident, the fact that the worker was an employee of the hospital would not prohibit a claim against the hospital for medical malpractice. And if a defect in the elevator caused the worker’s death, his family may have a wrongful death claim against the elevator’s manufacturer. These types of claims are often referred to as third-party claims.
If your loved one has been injured or killed on the job, you need a competent, experienced Huntsville, Alabama personal injury attorney to explore all of your options for recovery. Find the right lawyer early to avoid an unnecessarily long, expensive process.