Charlotte Workplace Death Attorney

Charlotte Workplace Death Attorney

Thousands of people working in the Charlotte area face numerous risks every day in their workplaces. Some industries are inherently more dangerous than others, but it is crucial for everyone working in every sector of North Carolina’s economy to acknowledge the various hazards they may face in their workplace every day. Unfortunately, some workplace accidents result in fatal injuries. If your family has recently lost a loved one in any kind of fatal workplace accident, it is crucial to consult a Charlotte workplace death attorney as soon as possible.

We Offer Compassionate Legal Counsel for Workplace Death Claims in Charlotte, NC

Almost every employer in the state is required by state law to have workers’ compensation insurance, and this insurance provides legal protection to employers while providing economic benefits to their injured workers whenever workplace injuries happen. This insurance also includes death benefits, payable to the beneficiaries of a deceased worker who died from a work-related injury or illness. While most workers are familiar with the workers’ compensation, what it covers, and how to file a claim, pursuing death benefits in response to a family member’s fatal workplace accident can be incredibly challenging.

The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, has years of professional experience handling all types of work injury claims for clients in Charlotte and the surrounding communities. The state enforces very robust workers’ compensation laws, and virtually every employer in the state is required to have this insurance. Employers are also required to meet specific obligations when they learn of workplace accidents, and failure to meet these obligations can lead to severe penalties along with frustration and uncertainty for the injured party. We can help your family navigate the workers’ compensation claim filing process and secure the death benefits you are legally entitled to claim.

Determining Eligibility for Death Benefits After a Workplace Death in Charlotte

Almost every private employer in the state must have workers’ compensation, and they maintain coverage the same way any other type of insurance policy is maintained. An employer pays a monthly premium to maintain their workers’ compensation policy, and the cost of their premium depends on their perceived level of risk in the eyes of the insurance carrier. When an employer has several employees file claims for workers’ compensation benefits in rapid succession, their insurance carrier is likely to see this as an increased risk, and the employer’s premium rate could increase in response.

Charlotte Workplace Death Attorney

This, unfortunately, compels some employers to interfere with their injured workers’ claims in various ways. They may attempt to discourage an injured worker from filing a claim, or they may engage in more overt disruptions by retaliating against the injured worker. Almost every worker is eligible to file a claim for benefits after a covered injury, and one of the most common tactics employers use to interfere with these claims is to misclassify employees or to misinform employees about their eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

Under North Carolina law, an employee has the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits as long as their injury occurred within the duties of their employment. This means they must have been performing work-related duties when the accident occurred or that the injury or illness in question directly resulted from their performance of their job duties. Similarly, death benefits are awarded to a victim’s family as long as the victim’s fatal illness or injury was a direct result of the duties of their employment. If you are unsure whether you qualify to file a claim for death benefits after your loved one’s fatal workplace accident, it is crucial to consult a Charlotte workplace death attorney as soon as possible.

Common Causes of Workplace Fatalities

Filing a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits in the state will require proof that the injury in question was a direct result of the victim’s work duties, work environment, or another factor strictly within the duties of their employment. A few of the most commonly cited causes of workplace death claims in the Charlotte area include:

  • Vehicle accidents. Many people in the state drive for work, and some must operate specialized vehicles to perform their job duties. Vehicle accidents are easily capable of causing fatal injuries, and it is possible for the family of the deceased to have grounds for further legal action in response to a fatal workplace vehicle accident, depending on who caused the accident and how they caused it.
  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls are the leading cause of workplace deaths in the United States each year. Any fall has the potential to cause life-changing injuries but falls from significant heights or in specific locations are especially dangerous. Ladders, scaffolds, mechanical lifts, and other hazards are all capable of causing falling deaths in many types of workplaces.
  • Acquired illnesses. Some people must work in inherently dangerous work environments or come into contact with hazardous substances within the duties of their employment. While it may be difficult to prove that a specific work-related illness caused your loved one’s death, a seasoned Charlotte workplace death attorney can help you gather whatever evidence may be necessary to prove that your loved one’s condition directly arose from their work duties.
  • Catastrophic injuries from heavy equipment and machinery. Many people must use specialized machinery to complete their work, and many of these devices are inherently dangerous in various ways. If a fatal injury occurs from a specific piece of equipment in the workplace, it is vital to assess whether the equipment was defective or if the incident resulted from negligent use of the equipment. If so, the victim’s family may have grounds to pursue further legal recourse outside of the workers’ compensation claim filing process.

These are only a few possible examples of how workplace deaths may occur. Ultimately, as long as the victim died from an injury or illness that was directly sustained through the course of their employment, the death is likely covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

If an employee’s own negligence caused their death in the workplace, this does not necessarily disqualify their surviving family from seeking death benefits. As long as they made an honest mistake while working in good faith, their family should have minimal trouble securing death benefits if they have the right attorney representing them. However, if they were working while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, if they were engaged in horseplay at work, or if they intentionally violated important workplace safety regulations, these issues may disqualify a claim. If there is any cause for concern that your loved one caused their own death at work, it is essential to consult a Charlotte workplace death attorney as soon as possible. They can review the details of how the death occurred and help you ensure eligibility to claim death benefits.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Workplace Death in Charlotte

Time is a crucial consideration if you intend to file a workers’ compensation claim in response to your loved one’s fatal workplace accident. The aftermath of any unexpected death in the family can be traumatic, uncertain, and incredibly stressful, so seeking legal counsel you can trust is an important first step toward your family’s recovery. Your attorney can assist you with filing your workers’ compensation claim for death benefits and resolving any issues that might arise with your loved one’s employer and/or insurance carrier.

Filing a workplace death claim through an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy is like filing any insurance claim, but there is another layer of complexity the claimant faces due to the fact that the employer plays a significant role in the claim filing process. Your Charlotte workplace death attorney can help you gather any evidence you may need to support your claim, proving that the death in question happened through the duties of the victim’s employment and therefore qualifies as a covered event.

It’s possible for the victim to have died immediately from an acute traumatic event, in which case proving the death resulted from the duties of their employment will be relatively straightforward. However, it is also possible for a workplace death to occur much later and still qualify for death benefits. For example, if your loved one suffered an injury at work and a few months or even years later died due to complications from the injury, this is likely a covered death. Your Charlotte workplace death attorney can clarify any uncertainty as to whether your loved one’s death is a covered event for the purposes of workers’ compensation death benefits under North Carolina law.

The death in question must have occurred within six years of the incident in question if the victim died from an injury caused by an accident or six years from the onset of a qualified disability caused by an occupational disease or medical condition. Alternatively, a claim may be filed within two years from the date of the victim’s final determination of disability. A workers’ compensation claim will always take the latter of any applicable dates, so if a worker suffered an injury four years prior to their death but received a final determination of disability one year after the injury, the six-year rule would apply, and the surviving family would still have grounds for a death benefits claim.

How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Provide in Death Benefits?

When an employee sustains an injury at work and secures workers’ compensation benefits, they can typically expect their employer’s insurance company to pay for all medical care they need to fully recover and to provide ongoing benefits for the time they are unable to work. These disability benefits are paid according to the victim’s average earnings during the year prior to their injury.

If a workplace injury or illness is fatal, benefits are paid differently. Workers’ compensation will typically pay up to $10,000 for funeral/burial costs, and this compensation will go to whichever party actually pays for the victim’s funeral and burial. The other death benefits available through workers’ compensation will go to the victim’s beneficiaries.

If the victim did not die immediately from the fatal injury or illness, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance has likely already covered some or all their medical expenses. Any remainder of the victim’s final medical expenses can be covered by a death benefits claim, but the most significant portion of a death benefits determination is the ongoing income replacement benefits provided to the victim’s family.

Most workplace death claims will yield up to 500 weeks of disability benefits to the surviving loved ones of the deceased, usually paid at a rate of two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly earnings. Your Charlotte workplace death attorney can verify the insurance company’s calculation to ensure you receive appropriate payments by reviewing your loved one’s pay stubs, tax records, and bank statements.

These weekly benefits aim to offset the lost financial support that the victim provided to their family, and the disbursements of these benefits will go to the victim’s closest surviving family members. The surviving spouse of the deceased and their surviving children are all qualified dependents for the purposes of workers’ compensation death benefits. If the deceased had one or more children under the age of 18, these benefit payments would continue until they reach the age of 18, even beyond the standard 500-week limit, if applicable. If their child turns 18 before the 500-week limit is reached, payments will continue for a maximum of 500 weeks.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim for a Loved One’s Workplace Death?

Workers’ compensation insurance serves two main purposes: to provide financial relief to injured employees when they sustain injuries at work and to protect employers from civil liability for their injured workers’ damages. In most cases, an injured worker cannot sue their employer for a work-related injury as long as the employer has appropriate insurance coverage. The same rule generally applies to wrongful death claims. The family of a deceased worker who died in the duties of their employment typically cannot file a wrongful death suit against the employer. However, there are exceptions to this, and it is possible to have grounds for a wrongful death suit against a third party.

An employer can only face liability for a worker’s wrongful death if they intentionally caused the death in some way, failed to uphold applicable workplace safety regulations, or if they do not have workers’ compensation insurance. It is also possible to have grounds for a wrongful death claim if an employer instructed the victim to perform an especially dangerous task outside of their typical work duties and which had a virtual certainty to cause harm. It’s more likely for the family of the deceased to have grounds for a third-party wrongful death suit.

Many people working in Charlotte interact with members of the public, customers, vendors, distributors, business partners, and other third parties not directly associated with their employers while they are at work. If any third party caused the fatal workplace accident in question, this could form grounds for a third-party wrongful death claim. For example, if your loved one drove a delivery truck for work and a drunk driver caused a fatal accident, you could file your claim for death benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, but you would also have grounds to file a third-party claim against the drunk driver.

What Are the Damages for Wrongful Death Cases?

Workers’ compensation death benefits can cover the victim’s funeral and burial expenses and provide compensation for lost financial support in the form of weekly payments to the deceased’s dependents. If the family has grounds to file a wrongful death suit against a third party, this could potentially yield compensation that is not provided through workers’ compensation insurance. For example, workers’ compensation may only provide a portion of the deceased’s lost income for a set period of time, and a third-party wrongful death suit could allow the victim’s family to recover recompense for the remainder of this lost financial support.

In addition to compensation for economic damages, the deceased’s family can also claim recompense for the pain and suffering the death has caused. The family has the right to hold the defendant accountable for their grief and the loss of affection, care, and support the deceased provided. Additionally, if the defendant caused the death through any illegal misconduct, the family may also receive punitive damages of up to $250,000 or three times the amount of their claimed compensatory damages, whichever is greater. This limitation does not apply in wrongful death claims arising from drunk driving accidents, however, so plaintiffs facing this type of case could receive much more in punitive damages.

How to Succeed With a Wrongful Death Claim in Charlotte

To win any wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence or intentional misconduct directly caused the death in question. Additionally, the contributory negligence rule applies to North Carolina civil suits. While the victim’s fault may not always matter in workers’ compensation claims, any contributory negligence on the part of the victim will entirely negate a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim. In other words, if your loved one contributed to their fatal illness or injury in any measure, it will likely override your ability to start a wrongful death claim.

It’s important to remember that state law requires a plaintiff in a wrongful death suit to prove both actual cause and proximate cause to succeed with a wrongful death claim. Proving actual cause means showing evidence that the death in question was the direct result of the defendant’s actions. Proving proximate cause means showing that the death was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions.

What to Expect From Charlotte Workplace Death Attorneys

The right attorney can significantly improve your experience with all the complex legal proceedings you might face in the aftermath of your loved one’s unexpected death. When you choose The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, to represent your workplace death claim, you will have a responsive legal advocate ready to address your concerns, answer your questions, and provide comprehensive legal guidance through all stages of your proceedings. Our team takes time to learn as much as possible about every client we represent, and we can thoroughly investigate the details of the death in question so you can approach your case with understanding and confidence.

When it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim for your loved one’s fatal workplace injury or illness, we excel at resolving complex claims, and we know the tactics that insurance carriers often use to try to avoid liability for workplace fatalities. We can assist you in filing your workers’ compensation claim for death benefits and verify that your loved one’s employer and insurance carrier have handled the case in good faith.

If you have grounds to pursue a third-party wrongful death suit in addition to your claim for death benefits, we can assist you in building this claim as well. Filing a wrongful death claim requires careful attention to detail, timely filings with the court, and various other considerations that will be difficult to manage alone. Having a trustworthy attorney for counsel on your side for these proceedings will not only increase your chance of success with the claim but also make the case easier to bear in light of your emotional distress.

The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, understands the stress, frustration, and uncertainty that can follow a loved one’s death in the workplace. You could face a long series of complex legal proceedings that, while they may provide the financial relief your family needs to adjust to your new circumstances, could be more challenging to confront alone than you realize. Our team is ready to provide the compassionate legal counsel you need in this difficult situation. Contact us today and set up a consultation with a Charlotte workplace death attorney to learn more about the legal services we provide and start working toward your family’s recovery with confidence.

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