A 28-year-old man, husband, and father of three was killed while at work in a horrific accident, leaving his family and the local community stunned.
A Kick Back
The victim who had been hired to do construction work was in the process of cutting an iron pipe in a trench when tragedy struck. The circular saw he was using became bound and there was a kickback.
A kickback occurs when the material being cut “pinches” the spinning blade. The energy that should have been used to cut is then transferred into the actual saw which forces it to suddenly fly out of control, often towards the person using it. That’s exactly what happened in this case.
The saw suddenly jumped and the blade struck him directly in the throat, severing his carotid artery. His coworkers, who saw him suddenly stumble, rushed to his side where they tried to stop the bleeding while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
“I ripped my jacket and my safety vest off and I stuffed it into his throat where the cut was and I tried to just apply pressure, kept him upright, tried to keep the blood from coming out.” said one man.
The paramedics rushed him to a local hospital where doctors spent hours trying to save his life, but despite their best efforts, he did not survive.
His grieving widow is still questioning how things could have gone so wrong. “I haven’t heard anything.” she reported. “I’d love to know something. What happened? Why did this happen?” She is struggling to care for their three children, a 9-year-old and 18-month-old twins, one of which suffers from a genetic disorder that requires him to be fed through a feeding tube. To make matters worse, the victim was actually scheduled to have the day off to spend with his family, however, he wanted to make a little extra money in order to ease their financial strain. Now, his widow is not just facing a lifetime without him but also juggling the loss of his income, on which she and her children greatly depend.
How Can His Family Move Forward?
The state of New York is no stranger to fatal accidents. In fact, according to the New York Times, the number of accidents, both fatal and non-fatal has skyrocketed.
Thankfully, most employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance which, in the event of an injury or death, will provide the worker or the loved ones dependent upon them, with benefits.
In the event of a work-related death, the potential benefits are as follows:
- Surviving spouses, children, and parents may collect up to $6,000 for funeral expenses.
- If there are no surviving dependents, then surviving parents or the deceased’s estate will obtain $50,000.
- If the deceased has a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse can obtain 66.667% of the deceased’s weekly salary.
- If there is a surviving spouse and minor children, they still receive 66.667%, however, the amount is divided between recipients.
- The benefits continue for the spouse for life unless they remarry, however, the children’s benefits stop when they turn 18 or if they stay in school as a full-time student, 23.
Given that the law makes the benefits available very clear, you would think that obtaining a payment would be an easy thing to do. But the reality is that obtaining these benefits is not a simple process.
As if having to handle the stress of losing a family member isn’t bad enough, any small mistake on a claim form or odd answer given to an adjuster in a moment of sorrow can result in a denial. Another frequent issue is that if claims are approved, the payout is incorrectly calculated.
That’s why it is always important for the loved ones of the deceased to contact a wrongful death and workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
How Can An Attorney Help?
From day one, an attorney can assist you during this painful and stressful time. Filling out forms, talking with insurance companies, and determining if there are other forms of compensation available are all ways in which an attorney can shoulder some of the burden.
In many construction accident cases, a careful review of the circumstances will show that a third party’s negligence caused the accident that caused the worker being injured or killed. Negligent parties can be held legally responsible and may find themselves named as the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In this particular case, it may be possible that the designer or manufacturer of the saw would be the party legally responsible for the accident due to a defect in their product.
What is a defective product?
There are several different types of defective products:
- A Manufacturing Defect: When a product is built, it is supposed to match specific designs and prototypes. If, during the process, a part isn’t properly created or installed, this is a manufacturing defect.
- A Design Defect: Sometime a flaw is in the very design of the product itself which means that it is dangerous from its very inception.
- An Issue With The Instructions Or Safety Label: If the company that manufactured the product failed to give proper instructions about how to correctly use the product, this can be considered a defect.
The bottom line is, that if a defect resulted in injuries or death, a lawsuit can be filed in order to get additional compensation.
Types of Compensation
When a plaintiff is given compensation for their losses, the court calls refers to it as “damages”. Although the types of damages that can be awarded varies from case to case, the following are forms that you or a loved one may be eligible to recover.
Although workers’ compensation insurance is supposed to cover all medical expenses, there are circumstances when it won’t. Some companies insist that an injured worker apply for approval for certain procedures and if they chose to deny the request, the medical procedure won’t be paid for. Families that are already struggling can quickly find themselves buried in debt as a result.
Pain & Suffering
It’s not uncommon for a work injury to cause serious damage which can leave the worker with permanent, constant pain. While monetary compensation won’t make the physical pain go away, it can help pay for treatments like physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage that can help ease the discomfort.
Loss Of Enjoyment
Everyone has a hobby – a way to destress after a long day. If the injury sustained means that the employee can no longer participate in activities they previously enjoyed, they may be entitled to additional damages.
Loss Of Income
While workers’ compensation does provide coverage for the loss of an income, it will only ever pay up to 66.667% of that loss. Most families depend on the full income and receiving a fraction of that is simply not enough. A lawsuit may be the only way to get full compensation for this.
Loss Of Consortium
This addresses the manner in which the injuries an employee sustained have impacted their relationship with a spouse.
How Long Does It Take To Get Compensation?
There are a number of factors that can affect how quickly compensation is received. Payments from workers’ compensation may arrive within a few weeks if the claim is approved. A lawsuit does take longer, at the very least several months.