A construction site contains various hazards that, if unaddressed, leave workers and bystanders at risk. If your loved one died in a construction accident, you might be entitled to compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit or the state workers’ comp system. The Valparaiso wrongful death attorneys of Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers offer empathetic, aggressive representation to clients in these difficult situations. Contact our team at (219) 286-7361 for a free consultation.
Causes of Fatal Construction Site Accidents
The specific causes of a construction accident will vary from site to site. Some common types of construction accidents we investigate include:
- Falls from heights due to improper harnessing or scaffolding
- Falling equipment or debris
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Defective tools or equipment
- Electrical shock
- Heat exhaustion
Our team will carefully investigate the circumstances behind the accident, including:
- Workers whose negligence may have contributed to the accident
- Negligent decisions made by the foreman or construction company
- History and maintenance status of equipment used on the site
- Compliance with OSHA regulations and state safety regulations
By determining every party who may be liable for your loved one’s death, our goal is to pursue the maximum reasonable award for you.
Wrongful Death or Workers’ Comp?
Whether you should pursue a wrongful death lawsuit or a worker’s comp claim depends on the decedent’s circumstances.
If the decedent was a bystander and did not work as an employee on the construction site, their personal representative could file a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, if the decedent was working on the construction site as an employee and not an independent contractor, you cannot file a wrongful death suit. In Indiana, workers’ comp is the exclusive legal remedy for compensation involving a workplace death, including those where the employer was liable.
There are some circumstances where you may still be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a worker decedent, including:
- A third party had some liability for the worker’s death.
- A defective product contributed to the worker’s death.
- The decedent’s employer does not have workers’ comp coverage as required by law.
- The decedent’s employer took deliberate actions that led to the worker’s death.
If any of these circumstances apply, the personal representative can seek workers’ comp benefits from the employer, then file a lawsuit to hold other liable parties accountable.
Workers’ Comp Death Benefits in Indiana
Death benefits under a company’s required workers’ comp coverage can cover various expenses. Some payments are one-time only, while others recur to a fixed limit. Eligible dependents will be allowed equal shares of sixty-six and two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly wage for a specified period.
- Funeral and burial expenses – State law provides up to $10,000 to cover the construction worker’s funeral, burial, or cremation.
- Payments to dependent spouses – A spouse can receive recurring benefits for 500 weeks or until they remarry. After the marriage, the insurer can pay a lump-sum settlement for the remaining benefits for up to 104 weeks.
- Payments to dependent children – Children can receive up to 500 weeks’ worth of benefits. Benefits will stop before 500 weeks if a child turns 21, gets married, or becomes employed.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?
The decedent’s age will determine who can file a wrongful death suit. For a deceased adult, only their personal representative can file. The name and information of the personal representative can be found in the decedent’s will. If the decedent died intestate and did not have a will, the court can appoint a personal representative.
The law becomes more complicated if the decedent is a “child.” Being a child means:
- The decedent was under 20, single, and did not have dependents.
- The decedent was under 23, single, did not have dependents, and was studying at a college or vocational school.
For child decedents, a parent or guardian who had custody of the decedent must file. If both parents are surviving, they may file the lawsuit jointly.
Who Receives Compensation in a Successful Wrongful Death Suit?
Compensation in a wrongful death suit is limited to specific types. The law also limits who can receive compensation.
If the decedent was married or has dependent survivors, Indiana allows them to claim the following damages:
- Final medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the decedent’s companionship, including spousal companionship
- Loss of financial support the decedent provided
If the suit is successful, compensation for final expenses must go to the personal representative. Everything else will be split among the dependents.
On the other hand, if the decedent was not married and did not have dependents at the time of the accident, their surviving children and parents can only claim the following:
- Final medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship, up to a $300,000 maximum
If the suit is successful, the dependents must prove that they had a “genuine, substantial, and ongoing” relationship with the decedent to access their share of the award. Money for medical bills and funeral costs will go to the personal representative.
How Can Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers Help?
No matter the circumstances, the personal injury lawyers of Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers team can advise you on the best courses of action and work on your behalf in pursuit of success. Some of the services we provide include:
- Investigating the construction accident
- Determining whether a wrongful death suit would be appropriate under state law
- Examining wills or working with the courts to determine who can file a suit
- Filing workers’ comp claims to get the death benefits you deserve
- Representing you faithfully during private negotiations or mediation sessions
- Representing you at trial, if necessary, for the best possible outcome
Consult a Valparaiso Construction Accident Attorney Today
If your loved one passed away in a construction accident, trust the Valparaiso wrongful death construction accident lawyers of Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers to defend your rights with award-winning respect and dignity. Brian Custy and Andrew Brown never represent insurers or construction companies. Contact our Valparaiso office at (219) 286-7361 for a free consultation today.