Recently, Aaron Henderson, a landfill traffic controller, was killed by a bulldozer while in a porta-potty. According to the reports, the bulldozer driver traveled up a hill to the landfill at night. While driving, the front blade of the bulldozer partially obstructed his vision due to the angle and height.
As a result, the driver accidentally bulldozed a porta-potty that he did not see. Once he heard the crumbling metal and plastic, he stopped his vehicle, but it was already too late for Aaron Henderson by that time.
The operator quickly jumped out of his vehicle to check the porta-potty for occupants. What he found was Mr. Henderson’s lifeless body inside. While this accident is tragic and heart-wrenching, similar workplace accidents resulting in death ( 4 – 5 thousand per year) happen far too often.
With that in mind, you may be wondering, “Is Aaron Henderson’s family eligible to sue for damages?” Continue reading to learn about Florida workman’s compensation laws and wrongful deaths at the workplace.
When Does Workman’s Compensation Handle a Workplace Accident?
Under Florida’s worker’s compensation laws, employers are mostly indemnified against personal injury lawsuits from employees. Instead, most workplace accident claims are handled and settled through the work comp process.
That includes cases that involve accidents like:
- Slip and falls
- Falling from heights
- Caught in-between
- Vehicle accidents and collisions
- Workplace violence
- And more.
It’s important to note that employees are typically unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for workplace injuries. However, an employee or their family can file a personal injury claim against third parties for injuries or wrongful deaths.
Understanding Workman’s Compensation Death Benefits
Worker’s compensation insurance covers injury and death. Generally, the deceased’s family, surviving spouse, or children can file a claim for death benefits up to 1 – 5 five years after the accident, depending on the circumstances. The worker’s compensation death benefit typically covers the following:
- Funeral expenses – Up to $7,500.
- Weekly payments – The surviving children, spouse, parents, or siblings may receive between 15 – 50% of the descendant’s wages.
- Educational benefits – A surviving spouse may be entitled to receive tuition payments for up to 1,800 hours of study at a career center or up to 80 hours for community college.
Generally, the worker’s compensation death benefit terminates once $150,000 (or less) is paid out to the dependants.
When Can an Employer Be Sued?
Employers can rarely (if ever) be sued for wrongful death at the workplace. However, suppose your family member suffered a wrongful death due to a third-party while on the job. In that case, you may be eligible to file a death benefits claim under worker’s compensation laws and a personal injury suit against a negligent or reckless third party.
Examples of third-parties that can face a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Third-party contractors or employees
- The property owner where the wrongful death occurred
- Manufacturers of defective products or equipment
Taking the example of Aaron Henderson, suppose a third-party contractor employed the bulldozer operator. In that case, Mr. Henderson’s family may be eligible to file a claim for the worker’s compensation death benefit and file a wrongful death claim against the third-party employer.
However, if they do suspect negligence or recklessness, they will need an experienced attorney for workman’s compensation and wrongful death claims on their side.
What To Do If Your Loved One Suffers a Wrongful Death
If your loved one has been killed while on the job, we recommend consulting with a proven workman’s compensation lawyer as soon as possible. A workman’s comp attorney can:
- Provide valuable insights into workman’s compensation laws regarding wrongful death
- Advise you on when to accept, reject, or negotiate work comp benefit claims
- File a workman’s compensation claim and wrongful death claim simultaneously
- Seek maximum compensation for your loses
It’s important to note that eligible surviving family members must file workman’s compensation death benefit claims and third-party personal injury claims within the statute of limitations. The sooner you contact an attorney about your case, the sooner they can get to work securing maximum compensation for you and your family.
Contact Schrier Law Group Today
The sudden death of a loved one can be devastating emotionally, physically, and financially. At Schrier Law Group, our worker’s compensation and wrongful death lawyers understand that no amount of money will replace your family member.
However, we also understand that you deserve to be compensated for the deceased’s lost income, financial support, love, etc. Our attorneys are compassionate, thoughtful, and aggressive. We won’t stop working until we get the best possible outcome in your case.