What happens when a construction worker dies at work and another company is at fault? In construction, this scenario is likely because construction sites often have several different companies working together, and there are suppliers and equipment rental companies, and any one of them could be responsible for the death of the worker.
When it does happen, the worker’s family is able to get compensation from either the employer’s Workers Compensation (WC) insurance and the third party who was responsible for the accident.
For example, a crane tips over killing the crane operator and it turned out to be a defect in the design of the crane. Because the worker died while working, then his or her family will have WC death benefits and can’t sue the victim’s employer directly for the loss (even if their employer was in any way at fault).
As an alternative, Kentucky laws allow the family of the deceased worker to sue the third-party responsible for his or her injuries. This is called a third-party claim.
In Kentucky, the employee is allowed to pursue compensation from either worker’s compensation or the third-party company, but not both. What this means is that when a construction worker is killed at work because of another company’s fault, then the surviving family can choose either getting the worker’s compensation death benefits from the employer’s WC, or suing the third party for the damages.
If you sue the third party and received any benefits from WC, then those would have to be paid back to the WC insurance company.
Third-Party v. WC Death Benefits
The surviving family can choose between the WC death benefits and suing the third-party. A look at both compensation awards and benefits might help make a decision.
WC Death Benefits
Kentucky WC law allows the surviving family of an employee killed at work to collect a lump sum of $75,541 and 50% of the average weekly benefit that the worker was entitled to had he or she lived for 425 weeks. The maximum weekly amount is $769 and 50 percent of that is $385, and this times 425 weeks is $163,000.
So the maximum WC death benefits for a Kentucky worker is $75,541 + $163,000 which equals $239,166.
Third-Party Wrongful Death Claim
There is no cap on a third-party death claim, but the amount that the family would get is limited by the damages that can be claimed. After looking at the types of damages, the family of the deceased worker will have to decide which is better for them. These are the most common types of damages that can be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Medical Transport
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages from Work
- Future Lost Wages
- Property Damage
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Permanent Disability
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Permanent Disfigurement
- Loss of Consortium (spouse)
- Loss of Nurturing and training
- Loss of Companionship (children, other family members)
These damages can be sought by each surviving member of the family who is allowed by law to claim compensation. Usually, this includes the spouse, children, and sometimes parents (if they were dependent on the deceased).
Another consideration is that usually it will take much longer for the third-party claim to either settle or go to trial. However, if there are several family members, it’s likely that the compensation will be larger than the WC death benefits amount.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Accident victims often wonder if they need an attorney, and the answer is almost always yes. The insurance company agents have years of experience and are good at their job which is to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. You need someone just as experienced to help you level the field. Talk to someone you can trust to be on your side and get you what is yours under the law.
The attorneys at Kaufman and Stigger, PLLC, have that knowledge and a combined 100 years’ experience in helping clients get the results they deserve. To discuss your case, call Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC today, at (800) 937-8443 or click here to contact them online.