Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim in Cases of Workplace Violence?

by Staff Blogger | February 7th, 2024

The families of victims of violence at their workplaces can sometimes file wrongful death claims against the perpetrators of these horrific crimes. Families may also pursue legal action against their deceased loved ones’ employers because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers set and enforce regulations to protect workers from acts of violence.

However, bringing legal action against an employer without the help of a lawyer is not a good idea. The employer is likely to hire a reputable attorney or a team of attorneys to do everything possible to deny your claim. By seeking legal representation to assist you, you give yourself the best chance of receiving the most compensation. If you live in the Modesto area, getting an experienced Modesto personal injury lawyer to establish a solid case on your behalf can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

This article will answer some common questions that weigh on victims and their families’ minds after fatal attacks or violent altercations at work.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is a civil case brought against a party who negligently or intentionally causes death.

Wrongful death claims differ from criminal offense cases because the state does not punish the offender. Instead, the victims’ family members and other affected parties must file wrongful death cases to receive financial compensation for their losses.

Can the Family of the Deceased File a Wrongful Death in Cases of Workplace Violence?

According to OSHA, workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening behavior that occurs at work.” The facts in each claim are different and depend on the specifics of the incident.

There are instances when going after an employer for an employee’s death may seem the most obvious pathway to compensation, i.e., if the death occurred due to exposure to harmful chemicals, explosions, fires, etc.

Unless the employer is the attacker, wrongful deaths resulting from workplace violence can be complicated to pursue. The employer may argue that they could never have predicted or prevented the violent event.

Family members are left to deal with grief and both financial and emotional damages. Who should be held accountable for workplace violence-related deaths? Let’s review California’s laws regarding wrongful deaths.

Code of Civil Procedure – CCP § 377.60 stipulates that a spouse, child, or other eligible dependent can file a wrongful death claim for losses caused by another’s accidental or intentional actions. This law means you have a right to pursue damages provided you can prove the defendant’s fault in the death.

Let us find out who the defendant can be in California.

Who Is to Blame for Workplace Violence in Modesto, California?

Going after the right person in a wrongful death case is the only way to receive compensation. The responsible party could be anyone, including the perpetrator or a third party.

The Perpetrator

The most prominent party to pursue is the perpetrator. The government will likely open a criminal case against an attacker who kills someone. As mentioned, such lawsuits will not order compensation for the surviving relatives’ loss. It will only punish the offender, likely through imprisonment.

A wrongful death lawyer can help families evaluate whether it makes financial sense to go after a perpetrator. They want to determine if the defendant has assets to cover the victim’s losses.

The Employer 

Although employers may argue that they had nothing to do with violent attacks, an attorney can prove that they were aware of the danger but failed to act.

Employers should establish and enforce clear workplace regulations to lower the risks of violence. OSHA also suggests that employers demonstrate a zero-tolerance response to office violence. Employers must act if they believe that something or someone poses a threat to their employees.

Consequently, if an employer fails to address concerns of violence and harassment at the workplace immediately, they may be accountable for future incidents. Negligent security measures could be counted among these failures.

A Third Party

Your attorney may find that someone other than the employer was to blame for the death.

Suppose the employer put measures in place to secure the premises, but a security guard fails to do their job. In such cases, the employer can pass accountability on to the security firm.

How Can a Modesto Wrongful Death Lawyer Help? 

Knowing who is to blame in situations of workplace violence can prove challenging. A wrongful death lawyer can assist with identifying at-fault parties.

Wrongful death claims are inherently personal. The victim’s relatives may be re-traumatized by repeatedly discussing the specifics of their loved ones’ death during negotiations with the defendant. A lawyer takes over this communication with the defendant, sparing the family additional stress.

Because lawyers are used to the complexities of wrongful death claims, they can navigate the system for the best outcome possible.

Following a wrongful death, families may be apprehensive about pursuing compensation. They may worry that they will not succeed in defending their rights.

However, with the help of an experienced attorney, victims’ loved ones can file wrongful death claims and win. At Berg Injury Lawyers, you only pay us if your case is successful. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.