Has a loved one been killed in a construction accident in Texas? Call 1-877-405-4313 for a free consultation.
When a construction worker is killed on a construction site, the case can be much more complex than it appears on the surface. Your family’s legal options depend on several key factors.
In many cases, workers’ compensation provides the only legal recourse when an accident occurs at work, as the existence of this coverage almost always shields employers from lawsuits. Unlike other states, Texas does not require an employer to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, and many employers choose to go without it.
Without the existence of workers’ comp coverage, the attorney representing the victim’s family is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the company. Even if the employer DOES have workers’ comp, when someone dies as the result of gross negligence on the work site, the State of Texas allows that family to bring a wrongful death claim.
Then… and now.
While there are still more workers killed on construction sites than in other industries, the truth is there has been a major safety improvement since the creation of OSHA 45 years ago. Prior to the existence of OSHA, approximately 14,000 workers died every year due to job-related injuries. Workplaces are much safer and healthier today, and as a result, on-the-job fatalities have decreased from ~38 per day to ~12 per day. While this is a major improvement, there is still a great deal of work needed to improve the statistics even more. In 2015, there is no excuse for a death in the workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act was created in 1970, and since that time, an estimated 510,000+ workers have been saved from untimely deaths. The implementation of OSHA regulations promised workers throughout the United States the right to workplace safety. While jobsite safety and health conditions have resulted in major improvements, there are still far too many workers in the construction field who still face a serious risk of illness, personal injury, or wrongful death. While most workplace disasters aren’t reported in the news, they kill and disable thousands of construction workers annually.
While these statistics from AFL-CIO are not exclusive to construction workers, the nature of the job makes them the most likely workers to suffer from fatalities. Consider the following statistics from 2013:
- 4,585 workers were killed on the job in the United States.
- 50,000 workers died from occupational diseases, leading to the loss of 150 workers on a daily basis because of a hazardous work environment.
- Almost 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses are documented, but many others have gone unreported. The true toll is likely to be between 7.6 million to 11.4 million.
- North Dakota had the highest concentration of job-related deaths in the entire United States: 14.9 per 100,000; more than four times the national average.
- The fatality rate for Latino workers increased to 3.9 per 100,000 workers compared to 3.7 per 100,000 workers the previous year.
- Workplace violence accounted for 773 deaths and 26,520 lost-time injuries.
Enforcement of job safety.
Between the federal and state OSHA plans, there are a total of 1,882 inspectors (847 federal and 1,035 at the state level) to inspect the eight million work sites that fall under the jurisdiction of OSHA. It doesn’t take much statistical knowledge to realize there are not enough inspectors to handle the load. Essentially, if federal inspectors were to inspect every worksite, it would take 140 years (91 years for state inspectors)! Currently, there is only one inspector for every 71,695 workers.
Remember the earlier statistic about North Dakota having the highest concentration of worker deaths? Astonishingly, there are currently only 8 total inspectors for all of North and South Dakota combined.
Since President Obama took office, stiffer OSHA penalties have been implemented, but the amounts are still not high enough to discourage violations. During FY 2014, a serious violation could cost the violator $1,972 under federal OSHA regulations and $1,043 under state plans. The penalties for worker deaths are embarrassingly low as well: in FY 2014, the median OSHA penalty for a fatality was $5,050, and $4,438 under state plans.
Criminal penalties for violations of OSHA regulations are very weak and usually only come into play when a company willfully violates OSHA regulations and a worker dies. Even then, the penalties imposed are often only misdemeanors. Since 1970, only 88 violations have been prosecuted with the defendants being confined to at least 100 months of jail time. During this time, more than 390,000 worker deaths occurred.
How can an attorney help?
If your loved one’s employer was not a WC subscriber (or they were killed as the result of gross negligence), your family is permitted to sue the company for 100 percent of the related losses (loss of family income, loss of consortium, medical bills, funeral expenses, etc). If you’re not sure if they carry state-authorized workers’ compensation (many nonsubscribing employers claim they do in order to avoid a lawsuit), call 1-877-405-4313 and let us verify with the Texas Department of Insurance. We’ll do this for free.
As these cases can get extremely complex, we urge you to seek out an experienced law firm to investigate your claim and guide you through the process. For a free consultation with our Dallas construction accident attorneys, fill out the contact form on this page or call our office (toll-free) at 1-877-405-4313.
Even if we can’t help you with your particular case, we can provide insight and lay out the options available to you. If we decide to take on your case, we do so for no cost to you. We only collect if we’re successful at securing you and your family monetary compensation. If we don’t win, you’ll never owe us a dime.
Speak With a Dallas Wrongful Death Attorney For Free
The attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm are happy to speak to you about your potential case free of charge. If we can help with your claim, we’ll do so for no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call us 24/7 at (214) 651-6100, or toll-free at 1-877-405-4313.