Last week's post mentioned that often, the families of those who are killed in a workplace accident in West Virginia might be able to file suit for wrongful death, as not all fatal injuries at a workplace necessarily involve an employee. Sometimes, a guest or a customer can die in an accident while in a factory, construction site or some other work environment.
Perhaps a more common occurrence is when an independent contractor is at a work site doing some sort of specialized task. Independent contractors, although not employees of a company, often face the exact same dangers as do a company's full-time workers. However, the families of independent contractors who die on the job may not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
Fortunately, survivors can resort to a wrongful death claim in order to get the compensation that they will need to cover medical bills and replace the deceased person's lost income. Like everyone in West Virginia, companies have an obligation to take reasonable care to ensure that people who visit and work on their property are able to remain safe.
When a company fails in this obligation and that failure causes the death of another person, then the company owes the family some compensation for their loss under West Virginia law. In addition to covering medical bills and lost wages, a family can also ask for non-economic damages for their emotional pain and suffering.
However, wrongful death claims involving a fatal workplace injury can be difficult to navigate, as an employer is rarely going to give in to a family's request for compensation and will often fight hard to avoid paying what they consider "too much" compensation for an injury. Our office has experience handling wrongful death claims relating to job sites, and we will work hard to represent a family so that it gets all of the compensation that it deserves.