Losing your spouse or a loved one in a workplace accident is an extremely tragic and emotionally overwhelming experience. When you lose one of the main contributing members of your household, not only are you faced with living the rest of your life without that person, but concerns arise regarding how to provide for your children, pay the mortgage, and maintaining your quality of life.
The right to recovery and the amount of compensation is based on the parties involved in the workplace accident. There are typically two ways to recover monetary damages: compensation from the employer or compensation from others at fault.
Compensation from an Employer
When an employee is killed on the job, in most cases, the victim’s family may seek compensation from the employer through a workers’ compensation claim. In Oklahoma, weekly death benefits for beneficiaries subject to the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act are calculated as percentages of the deceased’s average weekly wage (AWW), which shall be taken as not more than the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). Additionally, lump-sum death benefits are available to beneficiaries.
Compensation from a Third Party
While workers’ compensation laws prohibit civil actions against employers, you may file a third-party wrongful death claim if another party is legally liable for the death of an employee. A wrongful death action is permitted any time a death is caused by a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract of another.
Common examples of potentially liable parties in a wrongful death lawsuit following a workplace accident include:
- The manufacturer of a defective or dangerous piece of equipment that caused the accident or death
- The owner of the property where the accident occurred if he or she failed to repair a dangerous condition that caused the accident or death
- A third-party contractor or employee from another company caused the accident or death
- Any other third party whose negligence caused the accident or death
In some cases, you may be able to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a wrongful death lawsuit.