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What to Do Following a Family Member’s Passing From a Workplace Accident

By September 9, 2021No Comments

Work accidents happen every day, from slips and trips to machinery errors. While many of those affected by work-related incidents can utilize workers’ compensation to cover medical expenses and loss of wages, that process can get rather complicated after a loss of life.

In the event that the death was preventable, it’s even more heartbreaking. If your loved one died while on the job, you may be eligible for a wrongful death suit. Use this as a guide to decide the next steps following your loved one’s workplace accident.

Navigating Wrongful Death Suits in Minnesota

Minnesota law classifies wrongful death as either an intentional or negligent death from a person or corporation. It can even include the failure to act by another. A clear example of this is when a patient is misdiagnosed and dies. While the physician may not have  intentionally misdiagnosed them, his choice had severe consequences. 

Now, suppose a worker was killed due to a negligent employer’s lack of precautions. The surviving family members can then sue the employer. Since the deceased person is not able to seek these damages, their surviving family members can do so, including:

  • Parents 
  • Children 
  • Surviving spouse
  • Grandparents

Common Causes of Wrongful Death: 

Electric Shock

From faulty wiring to lack of safety protections, these issues can lead to electrical shock injuries that range from burns to death. Since it’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure proper equipment and machinery, they are responsible for any and all electrical shock injuries.

Truck and Auto Accidents

There is always a risk when out on the road for truck drivers, employees driving deliveries, and many more professionals that drive for a living or commute to an office. Inclement weather and other drivers are severe threats to an individual’s safety, and sometimes even the best driver gets into an accident. Regardless of whether an employee works on-premises or is clocked-in and on the road, they are still eligible for coverage. 

Severe Head Trauma

Icy walkways, tripping hazards, and even low-lit stairwells are potential danger zones. These areas can lead to severe head, neck, or spinal trauma, which may be hard to detect. Unmonitored concussions can result in aneurysms, strokes, and death.

Poisoning

Hazardous chemicals are in every business and range from cleaners to more toxic counterparts. If any of them are incorrectly labeled, sealed, or stored, they could pose serious health risks to both employees and customers. While most poisoning cases aren’t fatal, scenarios can take a turn when least expected.

Damages Awarded for Wrongful Death in Minnesota 

More than likely, when a loved one experiences a wrongful death at work due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing, you are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Even if the former employer tries to lay blame on the deceased, that doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot bring about litigation. Regardless of how the wrongful death occurred, you and your loved ones are still entitled to certain protections under Minnesota laws.

Any eligible surviving relative can sue for compensation to alleviate some of the following burdens:

  • Funeral costs 
  • Loss of wages and benefits 
  • Medical bills
  • Burial expenses 
  • Mental anguish 
  • Companionship loss

An employer may try to persuade surviving family members not to seek damages. Should this unethical practice occur, it’s vital to seek out a trusted wrongful death attorney. 

Steps to Take Following a Loved One’s Wrongful Death in the Workplace

Even though it’s an overwhelming time for you and your family, it’s essential to understand what next steps you should take to pursue compensation and process your loss. You have a right to seek legal action on behalf of your deceased loved one. Discover the necessary qualifications, time limits, and deadlines for a wrongful death suit. 

1. Seek Out an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

We understand how emotionally charged this time is for you as a surviving family member. While no one can bring back your deceased family member, our team will fight for your loved ones’ just settlement.

We highly encourage you to contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to begin a case investigation.

2. Report the Injury to the Employer

It’s essential to report the injury to the employer right away. Make sure that they fill out an “Injury in the Workplace” form documenting what happened in as many details as you can as possible. Ask to get a copy before you leave to ensure you have it for your case. 

This step is a legal requirement, so employers may not dismiss it for any reason.

3. Gather Information

Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys can help guide you through this complex process. If you’re unsure of where to begin, we are here to help you gather all vital records, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Insurance policy information
  • Medical records
  • Employment benefits

In addition to the essential documents above, make sure to notify your lawyer about whether or not your loved one was receiving social security benefits before their death. A portion of this financial support may carry over to all dependents under 18. Clarify with your lawyers to determine your eligibility for these benefits.

By gathering these essential items, your attorney can then begin building a strong, comprehensive case.

4. File Your Claim

Many states have time restrictions for filing a suit, and most courts are unwilling to make exceptions. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is three years in Minnesota. Courts are usually very strict in abiding by this time limit, which is why there is a sense of urgency in starting this process. 

If the last thing you want to worry about at this time is filing charges, you can also petition the court to enlist a designated trustee of your choice. Your trustee can navigate this process and let you have time to grieve and handle other details.

Work With the Compassionate Team at Mottaz & Sisk

Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be especially painful if their death was due to another’s negligence in the workplace. While it may be difficult to think about taking legal action at this time, it’s essential to consider your next steps. By taking the initiative to work with the skilled wrongful death attorneys at Mottaz & Sisk, you can seek the just compensation and understanding you deserve.

Our lawyers will help you gather key documentation, provide legal advice, and act as your family’s advocate. We strive to bring compassion and understanding to every case while fighting on your behalf in court. Contact the wrongful death attorneys at Mottaz & Sisk today to schedule your consultation if you’re ready to get started.

Jerry Sisk

Jerry Sisk

Jerry is a Minnesota workers' compensation attorney and work injury lawyer. He a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Minnesota Association of Justice, and Anoka County Bar Association. He has 10/10 on Avvo, 5 Stars on Google, AV Rated through Martindale-Hubbell and National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Currently, he is Co-Chair of the Work Comp Section of the Minnesota Association of Justice.