Construction is the deadliest occupation in Texas, and hundreds of Texas families are affected by construction deaths every year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 33% of occupational fatalities in 2021 were in construction-related industries.
For people who have lost a loved one in a Texas construction accident, it can be a confusing and frustrating time when they are managing their grief and personal changes while also dealing with paperwork, legal issues, and mounting costs. While there are resources available to help, they can be unfamiliar and difficult to access without an advocate.
Here is an overview of what you need to know if you have experienced a construction accident death in Texas.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Fatal construction accidents are complex, and there can be a range of different causes and different ways for surviving family members to receive help and compensation. Generally speaking, there are three major causes of accidents and three different avenues for compensation.
- Accidental death due to unforeseen circumstances. In the case of a “true” accident, surviving family members can file a claim with workers’ compensation or other insurance in order to receive compensation.
- Death due to neglect or carelessness. If the death was caused by avoidable workplace hazards and could have been prevented with reasonable care, then surviving family members may have a claim for wrongful death and can sue for compensation in civil court.
- Death due to deliberate violence. In the rare case that a construction worker dies as a result of someone’s deliberate act, then the accident may be a criminal case, and there should be a police investigation.
If your loved one has been severely injured in a Texas construction accident, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney right away, even if your claim has been accepted by workers’ compensation.
Construction sites are rapidly changing environments where it is difficult to conduct an investigation and easy to conceal evidence of negligence. A construction accident attorney can review your case and conduct a detailed investigation to ensure you and your loved ones get all the compensation you deserve.
When Is a Construction Accident Considered Wrongful Death?
A construction accident is considered wrongful death when the fatality was avoidable by reasonable measures. If the employer (or a supervisor, coworker, or other person) was careless or negligent, or if their carelessness or negligence created a hazardous condition for other people, there may be a cause for wrongful death.
Some examples of construction accident wrongful death include a driver who failed to slow down in a construction zone and fatally struck a worker, a site supervisor who skipped safety protocols to save time or money, or a manufacturer who knowingly sold unsafe or defective equipment. In order to prove wrongful death, the responsible party needed to know better but then decided not to act on that knowledge, and someone suffered as a result.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in a Construction Accident?
If someone has died in a construction accident in Texas, their loved ones and beneficiaries are eligible to sue for wrongful death. People who can sue for wrongful death are:
- Spouses, including common law spouses
- Children, including both biological and adopted children
- Parents, including both biological and adoptive parents
- The executor of someone’s will can also sue for wrongful death, acting on their behalf
Other loved ones and relatives, like fiancés, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, are not eligible to sue for wrongful death.
What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and a Survival Action?
In many serious accidents and injuries, the victim does not die right away. There may be a period of time when they are receiving medical treatment or where their prognosis is unclear before they ultimately pass away.
Because of this, Texas law allows accident victims and their loved ones to pursue compensation immediately and adjust their case later if it has a fatal outcome. In most cases, family members and loved ones will follow one of two paths:
- Workers’ compensation claim becomes a survival action claim. For Texas construction workers who are covered by workers’ compensation or other injury insurance, the claim they filed for their accident and injury can be converted to a survival action if the worker passes away. A survival action compensates family members and loved ones for expenses related to the accident and death, including:
- Compensation for medical care and treatment received prior to death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages
- A personal injury lawsuit becomes a wrongful death lawsuit. If the person injured in a Texas construction accident is suing for personal injury rather than filing a workers’ compensation claim and then they pass away, the personal injury case can be converted to a wrongful death case. A wrongful death case uses the same evidence and has the same standard of proof as a personal injury case, and survivors can sue for:
- Medical, funeral, and other expenses
- Present and future economic losses, including loss of wages and future financial benefits
- Emotional damages, including loss of companionship and counsel, and pain and suffering
While this system may sound complicated, it is meant to ease the transition between injury and fatality without starting over with a new process.
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a construction accident, contact a Texas construction accident lawyer as soon as possible. Construction accidents are complex, with many different avenues and outcomes, and you need the advice of an expert attorney.
Contact Aaron Allison Today
A construction accident law firm needs to be familiar with all the relevant aspects of the law, from insurance settlements to criminal negligence, and be prepared to investigate and fight your case in court.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison have been proudly representing injured workers and their families for two generations, and we offer free consultations to help you understand your rights and get all the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us online, or call 512-474-8346 today to learn more and get the help you deserve at this difficult time.