Your Husband Died at Work. What Happens Now?
Imagine yourself in any of these scenarios:
- Your husband regularly complained that the supervisors at his workplace turned a blind eye to safety issues. Last month, his shirtsleeve was snagged on a conveyor line and he was mangled by industrial machinery. He died in surgery at the Hershey Medical Center six hours later. The company has now promised a full investigation.
- You always worried that your husband, a firefighter in Harrisburg, would suffer burn injuries on the job. Instead, he fell from a ladder during a routine training exercise at the fire station. Although the fall was less than ten feet, he suffered a serious brain injury and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
- Your husband works as a long-distance trucker. He’s an expert driver and takes care to get enough rest on the road. That didn’t save his life when his rig is overturned by a tour bus in an early morning collision on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
- You have been married only three months. Your new husband works at a convenience store in Lancaster. He is shot and killed in a robbery attempt at 3:00 a.m one Sunday morning. The robber—who is soon caught—got less than $200 out of the till.
- A steam pipe explosion injures seven workers at a construction site in Elizabethtown. Two of the injured workers—one of them is your husband—died from their burns a few days later.
The Perils of Death at the Workplace
Few people recognize how frequently workplace injuries are fatal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 there were over 4,600 fatal on-the-job accidents; in fact, there was at least one fatality every day of that year.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for establishing safety rules and accident reporting standards for every type of workplace across America. However, Congress gives OSHA very little money and staffing to carry out its job of workplace inspection. As a result, the agency has to rely on voluntary compliance by businesses. Many companies see job safety as a cost-effective way to maintain output and protect their workers—but some are quick to cover up infractions.
The result is that American workers are much less likely to die because of an occupational injury or on-the-job accident than two decades ago, but the rate of preventable workplace deaths is still far too high.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The key here is preventable death. Business owners and managers have a legal responsibility to take all reasonable actions for the health and safety of their workforce. If they fail in that duty, they have behaved negligently, and they bear financial responsibility to make things right for the surviving family of the deceased worker.
This isn’t to suggest that you, the surviving spouse, can put a dollar value on your husband’s life, or that you should try to profit from his death. Money cannot bring back your husband or cancel your pain. What it can do is ease the financial distress you and your family will feel from the loss of a breadwinner, companion, husband, and father. A legal claim for a wrongful workplace death can help cushion the devastation that has suddenly struck your family.
The Harrisburg wrongful death attorneys at Schmidt Kramer are well-known for our compassionate approach when working with grieving families. You may find that talking over your concerns with a legal advisor may help you toward closure after the loss of your husband. Call us at today at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 toll-free to get your questions answered in a free, confidential case review.