Fatal Injury in the Workplace

Fatal Workplace Injuries: Legal Representation for Survivors of Fatal Accidents

Losing a loved one in a fatal Houston workplace injury is heartbreaking. How your loved one died could compound the grieving process, making it difficult to handle daily responsibilities.

While the last thing on your mind might be to hire an attorney, moving forward with a wrongful death claim might be the right thing to do for you and your family.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help.

The Houston injury law firm of Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., provides legal representation for family members of workers who lost their lives at the workplace.

We investigate fatal workplace accidents to uncover crucial evidence you will need to file and win compensation for a workplace death. Our goal is to provide you with justice for your loss and help you obtain money for punitive damages you will need to cover expenses.

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Who can investigate my family member’s workplace death on my behalf?

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Securing Justice in Fatal Workplace Injury Cases

Our firm has won many settlements for wrongful death cases in Houston and other cities involving workplace injuries. A recent fatal workplace injury case involving a head trauma from heavy machinery demonstrates our proactive approach towards the investigation process, how we prepare for trial, and the successful outcome of the case.

  • We interviewed our client. The decedent’s wife told us that her husband talked about the pressure he was under at work. He told her that the machines would run almost all day and there was very little time for breaks. He also mentioned that “all the machines would run with the doors open.”
  • The company failed to report the fatality to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When someone dies from injuries or accidents at work the company must report it to OSHA within eight hours. When the decedent’s wife hired our lawyers, the first thing we did was ensure that OSHA was investigating the incident. When our lawyers found that OSHA had not even been notified of the death we contacted the company immediately and made sure they reported the fatality.
  • We secured the OSHA investigation report. OSHA investigates every workplace where a fatality occurs. This evidence is very important because it allows us to determine what happened and how it happened. In this case OSHA took photographs and video from the workplace as part of their investigation and interviewed some of the key people who were at work that day.
  • We interviewed key people at the company. In cases like this it is important to interview the management and staff of the company, from the president to the employees on the production floor. Our lawyers uncovered the most damaging testimony when speaking to the co-workers of the decedent. It was clear from the OSHA investigation that the machine the decedent was operating was being run in an extremely dangerous manner. Our lawyers found, when interviewing other operators at the company, that ALL the machines were run in this unsafe manner.
  • We filed for worker’s compensation and punitive damages. The company carries worker’s compensation which will provide benefits for the surviving wife and children. In these types of cases, unless there is evidence of “gross negligence” on the company, the surviving family would have no case. Based on the evidence our lawyers uncovered we decided to seek punitive damages for the family over and above the benefits we knew they would receive from Worker’s Compensation.

How Our Lawyers Settled the Case for Just Compensation

Based on our investigation, our lawyers claimed that the company was grossly negligent with its operation of production machines. The company and their insurance company argued that the disabling of the interlock safety devices did not constitute gross negligence.

It was our finding that the unsafe state of the decedent’s machine showed that the company was grossly negligent. We even located a sworn statement by one of the decedent’s coworkers saying that the company typically disabled the machine safety system but, in an attempt to cover up the unsafe working environment, the company had re-enabled the safety systems during the OSHA investigation at the company’s site. After the investigation was complete the company reverted back to operating all machines with the safety devices disabled.

In the end, the company decided to settle the case before trial. If it had gone to trial, this testimony about re-enabling the interlock safety devices for the OSHA investigation and then disabling them immediately after would have lost the case for them and put some very disturbing evidence about the company’s operation on the public record.

The decedent’s surviving two children now have money from the settlement in a trust fund. Once they reach the age of 18 they can use the funds. Since their father is no longer living and providing for his family, the funds will pay for their college education and more. It is not a happy ending, but we hope justice is served.

Who Can File for Compensation in the Case of a Workplace Death?

Not everyone can file a claim for a workplace death under the law. Was your wife or husband killed in a workplace injury? Did you lose a parent or a child in a fatal work accident? Then you qualify for benefits under Texas law. Compensation for a workplace death is available for a surviving spouse, children or parents of a victim. You might also qualify to receive benefits if you’re the representative of the deceased.

What Damages Are Available in Fatal Workplace Injuries?

Survivors of workers who have been killed on the job are entitled to benefits for emotional and financial loss. Depending on the case, you might qualify to receive damages through a wrongful death suit, a survival action, workers compensation coverage, and other claims.

Sometimes the death of a loved one is unavoidable, while other times it is the result of lax safety procedures being followed by the employer or a sub-contractor.

We have seen instances where the employer has actually bypassed the safety procedures in an effort to increase efficiency and profits. Of course, this usually results in workers being injured and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration launching an investigation.

If an employer maintains workers compensation insurance, the family of the deceased will receive a death benefit and will be limited to that recovery unless either there is another company at fault in the death or the death occurred as a result of gross negligence by the employer. In those cases, the surviving spouse and children might have a cause of action for additional compensation.

If the employer does not maintain workers’ compensation insurance, the surviving family can sue the employer directly if it has any responsibility for their loved one’s death. Holding the proper parties accountable after a fatal workplace accident begins with answering several questions:

  • Did the accident happen in Houston or another city?
  • Does the employer carry workers’ compensation insurance?
  • Was another party beyond the employer responsible for the accident?

Depending on the answers to these questions, you may need to pursue compensation:

  • Through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance
  • By suing the employer if they do not have workers’ compensation coverage
  • By suing a third party who may have caused or contributed to the accident

We can walk you through the process of answering these questions and bringing accountability to the appropriate parties.

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My spouse was killed at work. What are my rights?

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Types of Wrongful Death Workplace Injury Cases

At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., our Houston attorneys understand how to effectively pursue accountability and compensation for our clients who have lost a loved one to a workplace accident. We understand how devastating these situations can be. Such a loss is often overwhelming. We are committed to helping our clients through such difficult times.

We represent survivors of workers who have been killed in all types of on-the-job accidents including:

  • Construction accidents
  • Refinery accidents
  • Industrial accidents
  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • Railroad accidents

Contact The Harris County Fatal Workplace Accident Experts Of Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C.

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, choose an attorney with skill and experience to help you create accountability and secure the full compensation you deserve.

To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Houston attorneys, call 713-221-6800, toll free at (888) 529-0018 or contact us online.