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Workers’ compensation vs. a wrongful death lawsuit

It can be confusing which way you need to file a claim after you lose someone you love in a workplace accident. Most of the time, your attorney will be able to help you file a wrongful death claim through the courts. The family of that person is generally entitled to sue for the death of their loved one.

When someone you love dies while working, can you go through workers’ compensation or do you have to file a wrongful death claim? While workers’ compensation could pay out death benefits to the family, there is also the option of suing the employer.

Generally speaking, employees themselves are prohibited from suing for workplace injuries because of workers’ compensation insurance. However, the fact is, if the family has to file, then a wrongful death claim may be made instead.

To make a valid claim, the family has to prove that a person died, that the death was due to another person’s negligence and that the family has suffered monetary injuries because of the death. For instance, if the main earner passes away, the family may suffer from the drop in income.

Here’s an example of how the family may make a valid claim. The family would need to show that their loved one passed away due to the work accident, either through medical documentation or worker testimonies. Then, the family should show that the accident was due to negligence (in the case of suing). For instance, if there were no guards on cutting machinery and a loved one is caught in it, then that could be negligent of the employer. Finally, the family has to show that they have had a financial loss by losing the worker’s wages. If the family receives workers’ compensation death benefits instead of going through this process, negligence does not have to be proven.

Source: FindLaw, “Death at Work: Workers’ Comp or Wrongful Death Claim?,” Christopher Coble, Esq., accessed Feb. 03, 2016

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