Worker Killed by Falling Equipment
A 51-year-old construction worker died on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, after equipment fell and crushed him, according to a San Antonio Express-News report. The worker, who the Medical Examiner’s Office later identified as Shawn Jimmy Pedregon, was fixing a collapsed manhole when the equipment gave way, causing him to fall 15 feet with the equipment falling on top of him and trapping him. The incident occurred on the 5100 block of Rogers Road on the West Side at around 8 a.m. that morning.
Did You Know?
Construction work is deemed the top fourth most dangerous work in the United States, with a fatality rate of 43.3 per 100,000 workers.
Worker’s Compensation and Wrongful Deaths Claims in Texas: What You Need to Know.
Employers in Texas are not required to carry worker’s compensation coverage, though many of them do. Worker’s compensation coverage places limits on the legal recourse an employee or the surviving family can take in the event of an injury or accidental death. In the tragic event of a workplace death, surviving spouses, children, and parents are often left to wonder if a wrongful death claim can be submitted if the employer carries worker’s compensation coverage.
In almost all cases, the answer to this question is no. The purpose of this coverage is to protect employers from liability, especially in high-risk jobs like construction work. However, there are special scenarios in which the surviving family may be able to file a wrongful death claim when the employer carries worker’s compensation.
Wrongful Death Against a Third Party
If a third party was the cause of the accident leading to the wrongful death, the surviving family might be able to file a wrongful death claim against that third party, regardless of whether or not the employer carries worker’s comp coverage.
For example, if a contractor or subcontractor caused the accidental death to occur, the surviving family may file a wrongful death claim against that third party.
Gross negligence is one of two exceptions to worker’s comp protections for employers. A wrongful death suit may be filed regardless of worker’s compensation coverage if it can be proven that the employer acted with gross negligence and that the gross negligence was the cause of the death.
Gross Negligence is defined as a lack of care that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety of others. It is willful and wanton conduct that affects the lives and safety of others.
Substantially Certain Injury
If the injury or accident leading to the death of the specific employee was substantially certain to happen, and the employer knew it but required the action anyway, then they can be sued regardless of worker’s compensation coverage. It is important to understand that in order to meet this requirement, the specific individual or small group of individuals must be the target of certain harm. It does not broadly apply to all employees of that employer and any broad actions.
These are broad standards and are not intended as a substitute for legal advice. An experienced worker’s comp and wrongful death attorney at Carabin Shaw can help you determine if your specific claim may warrant a wrongful death suit at 800-862-1260.
Carabin Shaw Worker’s Comp and Wrongful Death Attorneys
Our team at the Carabin Shaw law firm has been serving the injured and bereaved of San Antonio and the surrounding area for thirty (30) years. Contact us today if you lost a loved one to a workplace accident in Texas at 800-862-1260 or fill out this form. We look forward to serving you.