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Who Is Responsible — and Liable — for a Workplace Death?

Sudden deaths from any cause are the source of much sorrow and loss. However, when death occurs on the job, due to an activity related to employment, it is especially tragic. Work-related fatalities in Springfield and throughout the state of MO showed a decline in recent years (from 148 deaths in 2008 to 107 in 2010). However, in the case of all of these deaths, the driver would have been spared if he or she simply had not gone to work that day.

Unfortunately, some instances of death on the job in Missouri inevitably occur. The sectors that are hardest hit are agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. More than half of deaths in the workplace occur while in transport.

Some workplace deaths are due to gunshots or other types of violence — which is not surprising, given that Missouri ranks number 17 among the 50 states in gun deaths (12.9 deaths per 100,000). The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 506 deaths in 2010 were due to workplace violence (out of a national total of 4,547). This raises several questions about who bears responsibility for criminal workplace deaths:

  • If the death was due to violence, do survivors simply collect workers compensation, as they would by any other cause?
  • If the individual responsible was not an employee, does the hazard go beyond what is covered by workers compensation?
  • If security was provided by a third-party vendor, is that company liable for all related costs — including a lifetime of lost wages, and the emotional pain and suffering of the survivors?

A workplace injury and wrongful death attorney can help survivors sort through these and many other questions. Contact the Ryan E. Murphy Law Firm LLC in Springfield, to learn more.

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