Forklift Accident Raises Questions about Who Is Liable in Wrongful Death Accidents

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Heavy machinery deaths happen every year, especially in construction, shipping, and warehouse work.  In many cases, you might be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s wrongful death.  In Delaware County on the afternoon of March 28, 2017, a man was trapped under a forklift.  He was pronounced dead at the scene from his injuries.  This kind of tragedy can never be undone, but deaths like this often leave ways for the family to recover, financially, from the loss of a loved one.  If you have lost a loved one to a construction accident, talk to the personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm.

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What Must be Proven in a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Accidents like this one may lead to compensation under a lawsuit called a “wrongful death” suit.  Most accidents that cause death can lead to wrongful death suits.  In Pennsylvania, the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are allowed to bring suit for their wrongful death.

In order to prove a wrongful death case, you need to prove four elements:

  1. The person who caused the death owed your loved one some duty.
  2. The person breached that duty.
  3. The breach caused your loved one’s death.
  4. Your loved one died, in addition to proving any other damages you might be able to get compensated.

If you can prove each of these four elements in court, you should be able to receive compensation for your loved one’s death.

Can I Sue for Wrongful Death Due to a Machine Accident or Defect?

With heavy machinery, there are a few ways you might be able to recover.  If the machinery was designed unsafely or had some defect in it, you might have a case against the manufacturer of the machinery.  If your loved one was killed by someone’s poor operation of the machine, you may have a case against the operator.  In other cases where the machinery was used at work, there might be other routes to recovery.

In general, whenever the operator is at fault for the death, you might be able to include their employer in the suit.  In many cases, construction workers or other machinery operators use the machines as part of their job.  Whenever someone is injured or killed by an employee who was “acting in the scope of their duties,” the injured parties can sue the operator’s employer alongside the operator.  This is called “vicarious liability,” and is part of a legal doctrine called “respondeat superior.”

When you sue the operator’s employer, it often helps ensure all of your financial needs will be covered.  The operator, who may have been your loved one’s coworker, may not be able to afford the damages you are entitled to.  When the employer is joined in the suit, you can recover from the company and their insurance to make sure all of your needs are paid-for.

In general, when a loved one dies, you are entitled to many types of damages.  First, their death means they can no longer receive wages, benefits, inheritances, or returns on investments.  These can all be compensated as if the deceased were still alive.  Your own losses, including funeral expenses, lost companionship, grief counseling, and other losses can also be compensated.

Construction Accidents Lead to Injury and Death

Many types of heavy machinery and tools used in construction projects are much more dangerous than forklifts.  These machines and tools require training, safety precautions, and the undivided attention of the operator.  Whenever someone fails to keep a construction site safe, they are setting themselves up for liability.

dangerous accident occured

If you have lost a loved one, or you were injured in a construction accident, you might be entitled to compensation.  Always check with an attorney when you have been injured.  For most people, it is difficult to tell how much your injuries might be worth.  If you accept a settlement offer without checking with a worker’s compensation attorney first, you may block yourself from receiving the maximum compensation.

Construction sites often use some of the largest and most dangerous machines on big construction projects.  Forklifts may not be common on construction sites, but backhoes, Bobcats, steamrollers, and other lifting and digging devices certainly are.  Bulldozers and wrecking balls may be common for demolition, and large cranes are common in many larger projects.

All of these vehicles have the potential to cause serious injury if a person is pinned underneath or a victim of negligent operation.  Even something as simple as the visibility from the driver’s seat can lead to accidents.

Contact Philadelphia Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

If you have lost a loved one to an accident involving heavy machinery, contact an attorney.  You may be entitled to compensation for your loss.  While money can never replace your loved one, it can help to ensure your family is provided-for during these hard times.  To talk to experienced wrongful death attorneys in the Philadelphia area, call the lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm today for a free consultation.  Our number is (215) 246-9000.

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