Fatal Construction Accidents & Support for Surviving Family Members

Accidents are an unfortunate possibility every family must plan for when a loved one works in construction. These accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and, in the worst case scenario, death. Not only is this one of the most emotionally difficult experiences a family can go through, but it also leaves them in a financial lurch as they have lost a major source of income.

You have a lot to think about in the aftermath of losing a loved one, and financial compensation is probably not at the top of your list. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in New York is two years, so you have some time to settle your loved one’s affairs before pursuing a lawsuit. However, because of the financial strain this situation can put on your family, it is recommended that you start talking with an NYC construction accident attorney sooner rather than later. Your attorney will have an easier time investigating the accident when the details are fresh in everyone’s minds.

Survivor’s Actions & Wrongful Death Claims

When a construction worker dies in an accident, the surviving family has two options for legal action: wrongful death and survivor action. Many attorneys recommend filing both just to cover all of your bases. While these two claims overlap in many ways, some details are unique to each one.

  • Wrongful death – A wrongful death claim asserts that the employee died because of the defendant’s negligence, and the family is now suffering from loss of quality of life, loss of love and support, and/or loss of financial support.
  • Survivor actions – These claims are also made when the employee died because of the defendant’s negligence, but it also asserts that the employee experienced pain and suffering before their death because of the accident. These claims argue that the defendant would have been able to file an injury claim for compensation for their pain and suffering, and that their surviving family is now entitled to those damages.

In New York, family members are not allowed to bring forth wrongful death claims on their own. Only the “personal representative” of the deceased’s estate can file this claim. The personal representative must file on behalf of the family and will be entrusted with the compensation so that it may be distributed to the surviving family.

Workers’ Compensation

In cases where the deceased was covered by workers’ compensation, and the accident was the direct fault of the employer rather than a third party, surviving family members can reclaim damages through a workers’ comp claim. Sometimes it is possible to file for workers’ compensation and an additional wrongful death or survivor’s action claim if more than one party can be held liable.

For example, if an employee is hurt on the job because of malfunctioning equipment, it may be possible to obtain both workers’ compensation and file for wrongful death against the product manufacturer.

Fatal construction accidents often result in complex litigation for surviving family members. Our New York City construction accident lawyers at Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP can help during this difficult time. Contact us today at (646) 461-4009.