According to a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of fatal workplace injuries have been trending upward over the last several years, at least since 2013. In 2013, 4,585 workers lost their lives in work-related accidents. This number increased to 4,821 in 2014 and, by 2016, stood at 5,190.
Most of these fatal workplace accidents, about 40 percent of them, involved some sort of motor vehicle accident. The number of incidents of violence and animal-related injuries jumped by just under 25 percent and became the second leading cause of fatal accidents. The number of fatalities tied to toxic exposure also increased by just over 20 percent. Interestingly, the number of deaths related to explosions and conflagrations declined sharply, by just under 30 percent.
What is interesting about these statistics, particularly with respect to the motor vehicle accidents, is that they can often be attributed to a third party, other than one’s own employer. For instance, some of these car accidents no doubt were caused by a negligent driver. Also, those who cause workplace violence can be held accountable both in criminal court and civil court.
The upshot of this is that a family of a worker who dies in a fatal accident may have legal options beyond filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. For instance, if a negligent driver caused the workplace accident, then a wrongful death case against that driver may be available to the family. This sort of lawsuit will enable the family to pursue additional compensation for lost wages and, if necessary, additional medical bills. Damages for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses may also be possible.