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Protections for loved ones after a workplace fatality

Fatal workplace accidents are a devastating blow for surviving family members of victims. During 2012, there were 209 workplace fatalities in Florida. As of 2012, the number of workplace fatalities was trending downward from a high of 422 in 2004. However, each loss is a significant loss for surviving families members and loved ones of the victim.

Nationally, preliminary data for 2012 recorded 4,383 fatal workplace accidents, while 4,693 workplace fatalities were recorded in 2011. Of the 209 fatal workplace injuries reported in Florida during 2012, 65 were transportation-related. Forty-four were related to some form of violence, and 42 were from falls, slips and trips.

Among transportation incidents, roadway incidents accounted for 35 fatalities, representing 17 percent of all workplace fatalities in the state. In addition, among transportation accidents, pedestrian vehicular accidents accounted for 13 fatalities.

There are different layers of legal protections for surviving family members of victims of fatal workplace accidents. Eligible family members may receive workers' compensation death benefits but may also be able to pursue a wrongful death claim for damages depending on the circumstances. Workers' compensation death benefits are available to help families recovering from the loss of a loved one, however, they preclude a claim for damages against the victim's employer. In circumstances when a third party is responsible for the fatal accident, surviving family members may be able to bring a wrongful death claim for damages.

A wrongful death claim for damages may be able to help surviving family members with the physical, financial and emotional damages they have suffered, while workers' compensation benefits can also help. As a result, it is important for surviving family members to be familiar with what options may be available to them to ensure they receive as much help as possible during an exceptionally challenging time.

Source: BLS.gov, "Fatal Work Injuries In Florida-2012," accessed on Aug. 22, 2017

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