Wrongful Death and Workers’ Comp


An unexpected death can turn your world upside down both emotionally and unfortunately financially as well. You may think that because of workers’ compensation laws you cannot file a wrongful death claim if your spouse is killed because of the misconduct of someone at work or your spouse’s place of employment was negligent.


There are laws in place that prevent you from bringing civil actions against the workplace; however, it is possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against third party you feel is liable for the death.


How Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Work When an Employee Dies on the Job?


Workers’ compensation insurance laws were enacted around 1920 requiring employers to provide their workers with workers’ comp insurance. Texas is the only state that does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance.


This insurance works well when there is an injury in the workplace because if offers compensation to the injured employee while protecting the employer from being sued for actions that are covered by the insurance. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault program, meaning the employees are not able to bring legal action for damages that occur as a result of an accident at work.


Are There Circumstances Where a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Can Be Brought Because of a Workplace Accident?


If the cause of the accident was defective equipment, a warning system that failed to work, or inadequate maintenance on existing equipment and the employer hired a third party to manage, the wrongful death lawsuit may be brought against a third party that was negligent.


Here are a few examples of third parties who may be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit:


  • A manufacturer of a defective or dangerous machine part that was the cause of the deadly accident
  • A contractor not employed by the deceased’s employer
  • The property’s owner knew about a hazardous condition and did not take action to remedy the situation and that condition was the cause of the accident
  • Additional third parties who were negligent and the reason for the accident


Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Addition to Damages From a Wrongful Death Claim?


In many states, workers’ compensation death benefits provides the spouse with the victim’s lost wages along with medical and funeral expenses. Workers’ comp does not, however, compensate the family for non-monetary damages such as loss of support and consortium and pain and suffering. In addition, damages cannot be recovered for the pain and suffering that the victim endured prior to their death.


A wrongful death lawsuit can ask for damages for financial as well as non-financial losses. The lawsuit is brought by a representative of the deceased’s estate and compensation can be recovered for family that was dependant on the deceased for financial or consortium support, including a spouse, minor children, or parents if financially dependant on their child.


Contact an Attorney


An experienced wrongful death lawyer Trenton, NJ trusts realizes the emotional and financial impact the sudden death of a loved one can bring. Contact a wrongful death lawyer to discuss your situation and the options available to you and your family.


Contact Davis & Brusca for insight into personal injuries and wrongful death claims involving workers comp.