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Wrongful Death Actions Resulting From Construction Accidents

Imagine this hypothetical scenario: Robert, a father of four and late husband to his wife Elizabeth, lived in Massachusetts. He worked on various construction projects for his employer, a regional construction company based in Massachusetts. One day, Robert operated a piece of construction site equipment, just as he had on previous occasions. Unfortunately and unknown to Robert, the equipment was faulty. Robert’s employer had received numerous complaints by employees other than Robert that the equipment was not working properly. Additionally, the employer had received a letter from the manufacturer of the equipment that any equipment that was older than ten years could be replaced for a nominal fee, which was standard in the industry. The equipment was more than ten years old. Rather than replace the equipment, the construction company continued to require that employees, including Robert, use it. One day, the equipment did not lock correctly and caused heavy beams to hit Robert. The force and angle of the impact caused Robert’s untimely death.

As a result of Robert’s death, Robert’s estate (his family, in this case) may sue the construction company for wrongful death. In Massachusetts, when someone negligently causes the death of another, the family of the deceased victim may sue and possibly recover compensation against the person who caused the death. The law also allows the family of the deceased victim to recover against the wrongdoer if the one who caused the death did so by performing a willful, wanton, or reckless act.

Some of the possible causes of construction accidents include: ladder or scaffolding accidents; falls; equipment or property accidents; exposure to harmful chemicals; violation of federal, state, or local laws, regulations, or requirements; forklift accidents; no safety gear or safety procedures accidents; poor building materials accidents; harmful tools accidents; explosions; elevator or transport accidents; fire or burn injuries or losses; unguarded or mislabeled trenches or platforms; nail gun incidents; face injuries from debris; inexperienced employees or personnel; beam accidents; cleaning accidents; improper design of the location; improper inspection of the site; defective property; and more.

Would Robert’s family be able to make a wrongful death claim if Robert had, for example, lost his arm and not his life in the incident? The answer is no. Unfortunately, a death is required to bring a wrongful death claim. Although someone can suffer immensely in a construction accident with injuries such as broken or fractured bones, brain injuries, amputation, and other injuries, the victim must succumb to the negligence of the person or employer in order for a wrongful death claim.

Suppose this scenario occurred: Another man who had worked for the same construction company died when another employee accidently struck the man with a nail gun. Would the employee or the construction company be liable to deceased in a wrongful death action? As stated above, wrongful death actions require negligence. The construction company could arguably be negligent in hiring an incompetent person or in allowing work to continue with lack of a proper operating procedure in working with nail guns. Additionally, the employee could be liable to the family of the deceased because he recklessly killed the man with a nail gun.

Suppose that a woman worked for a construction company and used a movable lift to reach heavy bags of sand. When she reached to grab the sand, the lift snapped and caused heavy bags of sand and other materials to topple her. She had a prior medical condition and died on the way to the hospital because the materials that fell on her aggravated her medical condition. Would the woman’s family be eligible to make a wrongful death claim? The answer is yes, because in negligence matters, the defendant construction company must accept the woman as she is, regardless of her medical condition.

Wrongful death claims are made by the estate of the deceased, usually surviving spouses or relatives. Wrongful death claims allege that the wrongdoer or wrongdoers are liable for the death of their family member or members. Massachusetts law may also provide surviving family members the option to obtain payment for costs accumulated as a result of the death, such as funeral expenses or other reasonable expenses. In Massachusetts, if someone passes away within the wrongful death action context, the surviving spouse or family may also recover punitive damages in a wrongful death action. Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent actor for wrongful conduct.

If you are seeking a competent personal injury law lawyer or wrongful death action attorney, please contact our offices by phone at 978-225-9030 during business hours or complete a contact form on our website. We will respond to your phone call or submission promptly.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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