Death at Work: Should You File a Workers’ Comp or Wrongful Death Claim?

Losing a loved one under any circumstances can be very traumatic. It can be even more frustrating when the death of a loved one happens while they are at work.

Let’s discuss what you can do if a loved one dies while at work. How should you proceed in such a situation? Should you file a workers’ comp or wrongful death claim? Also, can the employer be held accountable? These concerns are common and valid.

surviving family after missouri death at work

Who Should Be Held Responsible?

Following up on lawsuits and compensation claims for the deceased can be very overwhelming and confusing. Firstly, Missouri has a no-fault workers comp policy, meaning you generally cannot sue your loved one’s employer for wrongful death

However, if a third party was involved in their death, you can file a lawsuit against them. Also, if your family member died from a car crash, you could seek compensation from the at-fault driver. You may also file a lawsuit against the manufacturer if the death of your family member resulted from some faulty equipment. 

What Is the Difference Between Workers Comp and Wrongful Death Claim?

Workers’ Compensation

Workers Compensation covers an employee’s sickness, injuries, and death while on the job. For example, when an employee covered by worker’s comp dies at work, their spouse or children should generally receive death benefits, including funeral expenses, 66% of the deceased’s weekly wage, and any medical expenses incurred before they died. However, the death benefits don’t include compensation for intangible losses such as pain and emotional turmoil. 

While workers’ compensation claims are relatively quick, they also protect employers against a lawsuit. This means that you generally cannot sue the employer for negligence as the insurance covers the incurred damages unless there is proof of negligence – in which case, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) might penalize them.

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim is filed after proof that the death of your family member was caused by negligence from a third party. Although the process might take longer, you may recover more than you would in a workers’ comp claim. Some compensation may include funeral expenses, lost wages, medical expenses, loss of care and assistance benefits, and intangible losses such as pain and suffering.

Speak With an Experienced Missouri Work Injury Lawyer

If your loved one died on the job, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced Missouri work injury lawyer. At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we have over 30 years of protecting the rights of injured Missouri workers and their families. We can evaluate your claim for free and help you understand what your legal options are.

Get FREE Legal Advice

Call today to speak with an experienced Missouri workers compensation attorney!

Call (816) 399-3706
Updated: June 29, 2021

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