Compensation for Fatal Accidents at Work
Are you looking to claim compensation for death at work? Statistics show that there are approximately 152 fatal work accidents annually for employees carrying out their jobs. Many relate to falling from heights, such as scaffolders, roofers and builders on-site climbing ladders or working at height. There are specific Health & Safety Regulations to protect workers who work above ground level.
Employers are obliged to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Fatal work accidents are an obvious hazard that employers must safeguard against. All employers must ensure that the place of work is safe for all employees. They must provide any safety equipment, clothing and breathing apparatus to protect employees undertaking work that may cause them harm. Working at heights is an obvious danger, and employers must provide not only the relevant safety equipment, such as scaffolding safety netting, but also training.
If you have been affected by a fatal accident at work, our specialist solicitors are on hand to support you. While we sadly cannot bring your loved one back, we can help you make a successful compensation claim. Fatal work accident claims are made on the basis that an employee died following another person’s reckless and/or negligent actions. Fatal work accident compensation is vital in ensuring the victim’s close relatives are not financially burdened following the death.
Please click the button below to speak to one of our solicitors for free, no-obligation advice on pursuing a death at work payout.
When claiming for fatal work accident damages, the claim is made against the individual or organisation to blame for the accident. However, it’s important to note that the company’s insurance company is usually the party that will pay out the compensation damages. When liability has been accepted, or a judge has decided in your favour, the solicitors representing your claim will negotiate with the insurance company. We will aim to reach a settlement deal with the maximum compensation you deserve. If an agreement cannot be reached during negotiations, a judge can determine the amount of damages to be awarded.
We know that you may be hesitant to pursue a fatal work accident claim because of the effects that it may have on the company and its employees. Employers must protect the health and safety of staff at all times. The ultimate price for failing to do so is loss of life. Compensation is vital for supporting bereaved families and ensuring lessons are learnt to prevent future accidents. Every company in the UK that employs staff requires Employers’ Liability Insurance. This policy covers the damages, compensation costs and legal fees should an accident occur. You can rest assured that your compensation claim won’t financially hamper the business or see employees laid off due to financial implications.
Workplace health and safety laws can be highly complicated, and it’s not always straightforward to identify what party is to blame for a work accident. In some cases, multiple parties may share some responsibility, including the injured employee, the negligent employee and the company itself. It is best to speak to a solicitor to determine where the blame will lie. Below are some examples of who may be to blame for a workplace accident.
The employer’s legal responsibility is to provide a safe working environment for their employees, ensuring work is carried out safely. Their duty may involve implementing safety procedures, providing training and maintaining equipment. The employer may be liable if an accident happens because of inadequate training, hazardous facilities or faulty equipment.
The employee’s legal responsibility is to follow the rules set by their management, ensuring they follow safety protocols, wear PPE, report hazards and use equipment safely. If the employer has complied with health and safety regulations, covering areas like appropriate training and safe equipment, but an employee has not followed their instructions, the employee may be liable. If the employee is the victim, this may affect their entitlement to compensation.
Another critical point is vicarious liability, which means the company is partly liable for an employee’s actions that led to the accident. While employees can operate how they see fit, the employer must ensure their staff act appropriately and do everything reasonable to prevent or limit harmful acts performed by employees. If the victim cannot prove which employee acted negligently, the employer may be held responsible based on vicarious liability.
The workplace is an environment where people should go to progress their careers, make friends and earn a living. No one should go to work and not return. To present an idea of how prevalent fatal injuries at work can be, this section will detail some of the latest accident figures.
The Health and Safety Executive releases an annual report summarising workplace fatal injuries. The latest report, published in July 2021, covers accidents in 2020/21 up to March 2021. During this period, 142 workers were killed following a fatal work accident. Here is a breakdown of the industries where these deaths happened:
- Construction: 39 deaths
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing: 34 deaths
- Manufacturing: 20
- Wholesale, Retail, Motor Repair, Accommodation and Food: 14 deaths
- Admin & Support Services: 11 deaths
- Transport and Storage: 10 deaths
- Waste: 3 deaths
- Other: 11 deaths
The sectors where fatal injuries are more likely to happen is comparable to previous years, showing just how dangerous construction, agriculture and manufacturing can be. Most deaths occurred in people under 59, but the rate is greater for people aged 60 and over.
The following is a breakdown of fatal work accidents based on the main type of incident that occurred:
- Falls from height: 35
- Struck by a moving vehicle: 25
- Struck by a moving object: 17
- Trapped by collapsing/overturning objects: 14
- Contact with moving machinery: 14
Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has more statistics that show the impact of fatal workplace injuries across the EU. In 2018, across the European Union’s member countries, there were 3,332 fatal accidents recorded. In terms of non-fatal accidents, most involved men by far with 2,137,935 compared to 968,107. Construction, once again, led the way with the most fatal accidents followed by transportation and storage, manufacturing and agriculture. Interestingly, manufacturing saw the most non-fatal accidents.
There are so many ways in which an accident in the workplace can take place and even more ways in which an accident may affect someone. Fatal work accidents are different, no matter how it was caused or how it has impacted someone’s life. We can only fully take in the bigger picture when we look at real-life accidents at work compensation examples. Below are some case study examples of accidents that have made the news, including how it has affected the victim’s life and the compensation payouts they’ve received.
Waste Company Fined for £250k
One of the most recent examples of a fatal work accident involves a waste management firm in County Durham. In December 2015, an employee of Stonegrave Aggregates tragically died when a machine that separates waste was accidentally switched on. The deceased, named Simon Hogg, was violently thrown around, as was another employee who sustained life-changing injuries such as a broken leg, several fractures and a punctured lung.
Mr Hogg was pronounced dead at the scene despite attempts to revive him. An inspection by the Health and Safety Executive concluded that numerous failings were discovered. The company admitted to failing to comply with regulations and ensuring employees’ health and safety. The Northern Echo reports that Stonegrave Aggregates was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £48,952. The site manager, David Basham, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence, while director and operations manager Bruce Whitley received a 12-month community order.
Farmer Fined for Serious Failings
In this case study example of death at work, a farmer was fined for serious safety failings. The farmer was charged with negligence/fault following the death of a 27-year-old man. The victim and another employee were tasked with fixing the mechanism of a digester tank. Once the tank’s roof was opened, the employees were engulfed by toxic hydrogen sulphide gas. This compensation for death at work payout resulted in the company and two of his other businesses being fined £20,000. It was determined that the farmer failed to assess the roof and did not provide the employees with the necessary training before carrying out the task.
Family Receives £315,000 for Cherry Picker Crash
A family has received £315,000 in death at work payout damages following a fatal work accident involving a cherry picker. Painter and decorator Mikey McArthur, aged 26, died following the accident in Doune, Perthshire, in September 2018. While working on the upper level of the exterior of a building, a tour coach collided with the cherry picker. Mr McArthur was flown from the platform and sustained fatal injuries after falling to the floor.
At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Judge Lord Armstrong ruled that the accident occurred following the coach driver’s failure to identify and avoid an obvious hazard. The family won the compensation claim against coach operator Timberbush Tours and the company’s insurers. Mr McArthur’s father and mother each received £100,000. His half-sister and stepfather received £45,000 and £75,000, respectively.
Compensation for the Largest Oil Rig Disaster
Oil rigs can be some of the most dangerous environments for workers, and one of the world’s biggest disasters happened in July 1988. Piper Alpha, an oil rig near Aberdeen, was once one of Britain’s largest oil and gas providers. Sadly, an accident happened in 1988 following a gas leak which ignited and caused an explosion, leading to the deaths of 167 workers.
Following the disaster, a report showed that the operator, Occidental Petroleum, used inadequate maintenance and safety procedures. Lord Cullen recommended over 100 improvements for safety when working in the North Sea. It cost more than £1bn and is the largest insured man-made catastrophe. No one was made liable, and the operator didn’t receive a criminal or civil conviction, but they paid out £66m in compensation to the families of the deceased.
£860K Payout After Man Freezes to Death
In this fatal work accident example, a man froze to death while working at a wind farm in January 2018. Ronnie Alexander, aged 74, was a security guard working a 12-hour shift at the Afton Wind Farm in Scotland. When he didn’t return home, alarms were raised, and a search was carried out. Mr Alexander was found in deep snow, and he sadly died the following day from hypothermia. It is believed that his cabin generator failed, leaving him with no heat or electricity.
The family’s solicitors sought a compensation claim against his employer and the site’s construction company. They were eventually awarded £860k in compensation. Following the payout, Mr Alexander’s widowed wife didn’t express happiness, only relief that it was over and she could now focus on her family. She also stated that she hopes lessons will be learnt to improve safety and prevent future accidents.
At work, if you have been exposed to asbestos dust that may prove to be fatal. It will be classed as an industrial disease. Dust extraction systems can be effective products that employers can install to capture and remove dangerous dust particles.
There are several conditions that may be caused by asbestos:
- Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer
Mesothelioma affect the lungs and is always fatal when diagnosed, victims often have less than a year to live, some longer, some not so long. Asbestos-related lung cancer involves the fibres from asbestos becoming lodged in the lung tissue causing irritation and scarring over time. This irritation and scarring can then also develop into tumours. There is often a complex association where the worker victim has also smoked and the expert evidence suggests that there is an increased likelihood of lung cancer. But in the case of malignant mesothelioma, the asbestos fibres scar and lead to tumours in the lining of the lungs causing cancer and death.
As expert solicitors in this area, not only do we have a wealth of experience with personal injury and industrial disease at work, we have combined our expertise when dealing with fatal accidents to provide comprehensive legal services to bereaved families. A complete seamless legal service providing a wealth of experience to progress your case with vigour and without fear.
Further Reading Mesothelioma After Death For Families
We have several more articles on mesothelioma to help you and your family to consider choosing the right solicitor to help you through this difficult time. You must not delay, however, as this could be a bar to making a claim and be in no doubt that despite the hardship and pain you and your family are enduring the employer’s insurers and legal advisers will take the matter to court to decide if there was a delay in taking court action.
The agriculture industry is a sector that is particularly affected by fatal work accidents. Even in this accidents at work guide, we’ve presented several examples of deaths happening following an accident at a farm. In fact, as reported by Farmers Weekly, as of April 2021, the United Kingdom has seen its fatal accident rate for UK farming reach its highest point in 25 years. In just one year, over 50 people were recorded as having died in a farm-related accident. This figure is nearly double the rate of the previous year.
Farming is a critical industry as it helps to source raw materials like sugar and wood, boost international trade and heal the environment. Perhaps most importantly, farming is an important source of the world’s food supply. However, we can’t ignore the fact that farming can be an extremely dangerous work environment. Farming accidents often involve falls from height, vehicle and machinery incidents, and injuries caused by livestock.
Here at R James Hutcheon Solicitors, we understand that losing a loved one can cause pain, grief and suffering and that no compensation can recover this loss. However, the award of compensation for death at work can help with the stress of loved ones still having to pay the mortgage and bills such as funeral costs, loan repayments and general household expenses. A bereavement award can also be awarded to the deceased’s Spouse or Parents.
For your information, we have set up a fatal accident compensation guide. Anyone needing any more information, please contact us.
We’ve helped many clients receive thousands in compensation for various claims, including fatal work accidents. Our team is committed to offering friendly advice, compassionate support and submitting claims with a high chance of success.
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I recommend R James Hutcheon Solicitors and the work they did to successfully claim for injuries and win my case for me.
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Experiencing a sudden death can be a tragic experience no matter what, but the effects are perhaps greater if it involves a workplace accident. We see colleagues nearly every day, often more so than our own family, which creates a unique bond. If an employee dies, it can affect staff members in so many ways. As an employer, you hold responsibility for reacting in an appropriate way.
As soon as an accident occurs, you should ensure that emergency services are informed, medical care is provided, and the cause of the accident is eliminated – such as switching off equipment and halting operations. When an employee’s death has been confirmed, we recommend that you speak to their family as soon as possible. When doing so, it’s vital that you show compassion and sympathy and avoid burdening them with formalities. Sending flowers or a book of condolence would also be helpful.
After speaking with the family, your attention should turn to your employees. Starting with those closest to the deceased, inform your team about the death, leaving out details that the family would perfect undisclosed. Ensure that your team knows support is available if they need it, such as counselling or time off work. Make time to answer their questions and allay any concerns that they may have, showing that you will do everything possible to prevent an accident from taking place again. You may need to consider how best to cover the deceased’s duties in the short term before finding a replacement.
When the time is right, reach out to the family once more to discuss funeral arrangements and how you can help. If permitted, ensure that employees can attend if they wish to do so. You can then proceed with the formalities of terminating the employee’s status at your company. This stage will involve collecting business items from their home, returning personal belongings, revoking security access, and so on. You will also need to arrange delivery of the deceased’s final wage, pension and other benefits to their estate or other representatives.
All of the above questions following the death of a close family member are just a small number of enquiries that you will find answers to by contacting us for sympathetic and professional advice.
The family/dependants are entitled to submit a claim to get fatal accident at work compensation on behalf of the deceased if there is blame.
Not only can the family get death at work payout compensation, but they are also able to claim for bereavement award and dependency claim which includes funeral expenses and serious loss due to being dependant on the deceased.
A dependency claim is a claim is for financial support, usually to the next of kin such as the deceased’s wife, husband and children – Civil Partnerships are also now recognised. When a person dies, if the deceased was had an income, that income would be lost upon death. It is generally the case that the income would be used for the benefit of the spouse/partner and children which results in a continuing loss to the dependents. The dependents are therefore able to claim for this financial loss to support them.
The calculation is usually divided in a certain way unless there is a particular pattern or an unusual way that the deceased supported his/her dependents before death. What the deceased would have earned for the rest of his/her life, including any future promotions and/or any pension provisions, is taken into consideration. As fatal accident at work solicitors, we will assess how much of that money would have been spent on providing for the deceased dependents/family and calculate what the dependency award would be which can amount to a substantial sum.