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Fatal workplace injuries and wrongful death suits

There is no amount of money that can fill the void and or make up for the trauma of losing a spouse to a fatal workplace accident. The purpose of financial compensation is to lighten the burden of expenses and lost income in the aftermath of a partner’s death.

Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit may secure additional compensation for the pain and emotional distress the situation has caused, as well as the suffering of deceased. However, these proceedings can become complicated when they coincide with workers’ compensation claims. Here is what you need to know about claims arising from a work-related death.

Workers’ compensation death benefits

Most businesses carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides important benefits when a death occurs in the scope of employment.

  • Florida workers' comp pays for funeral and burial expenses, up to $7,500.
  • Workers' comp provides up to $150,000 in death benefits to the spouse and dependents, paid in installments or in a negotiated lump sum.

Florida law dictates that workers' compensation is the "exclusive remedy." With few exceptions, survivors cannot sue the employer, even if the deceased's employer or co-workers were directly at fault for the fatal accident.

Wrongful death against third parties

Though you cannot hold the employer liable for the wrongful death of your spouse, you may be able to trace the cause back to a third party. By examining the circumstances of the accident, it is possible to uncover a separate entity who shares legal responsibility for the fatal accident.

For example, if your spouse worked in a factory, the injury may have resulted from a defect in machinery, materials or personal protective equipment. In addition to the spousal benefits from a worker’s compensation claim, you may have grounds to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the dangerous product or machine that contributed to your spouse’s fatal injury or illness. The third party could also be a subcontractor, a property owner, a utility company whose negligence caused or contributed to the death.

Grieving the unexpected loss of a spouse can make life incredibly challenging, but you should not suffer the additional strain of financial responsibility on top of it. Some situations may enable you to seek further damages than the initial workers’ compensation payout.

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