Even when every worker, supervisor, and visitor on a construction site adheres to safety rules and wears appropriate protective gear, deadly accidents are all too common in this inherently dangerous industry. To make matters worse, some fatal accidents that involve construction site workers stem from negligence by a third party rather than a directly work-related incident, which can significantly complicate recovery efforts.
Fortunately, it is possible to file separate wrongful death lawsuits against negligent contractors, suppliers, and other third parties following fatal construction site accidents in Birmingham. A knowledgeable and compassionate construction accident lawyer could walk you through your legal options during a confidential consultation, and once retained, they could work tirelessly to pursue financial restitution on behalf of a deceased individual’s estate.
Proving Fault for a Fatal Construction Site Accident
Third-party litigation following construction site accidents generally follows the same rules that apply to personal injury litigation against an individual. In practice, this means that in order to recover compensation after a construction site accident in Birmingham that results in someone’s death, the party pursuing litigation must be able to prove that a third party’s negligence directly caused the accident in question, and that the deceased individual would have had grounds to file suit themselves had they survived their injuries.
Under state civil law, negligence has four components that all must be present for a defendant in a civil claim to be found liable for damages:
- A duty to act reasonably and safely in the interest of protecting others from harm
- A reckless or careless action that constitutes a breach of that duty
- A causal relationship between the breach of duty and the accident in question
- Compensable losses suffered by the plaintiff(s)
Assistance from dedicated legal counsel is often essential to demonstrating that all these elements apply to a particular case, as this process can require a great deal of evidence in various forms.
What Damages Could Family Members Recover?
Unfortunately, Alabama diverges significantly from most other states in not allowing family members of a fatal construction site accident victim in Birmingham to file suit on their loved one’s behalf. Instead, only a personal representative of the decedent’s estate may pursue such a claim, and they may only recover damages on behalf of the estate. The only option surviving family members have for seeking financial restitution following a wrongful death is demanding that a court hold the defendant(s) liable for punitive damages.
Rather than compensating family members for specific losses, punitive damages are meant solely to punish defendants for especially egregious conduct and to discourage other individuals from engaging in similar actions in the future. To convince a court to hold a third-party contractor or company liable for punitive damages in the wake of a fatal construction site accident, surviving family members must present clear and convincing evidence of deliberate oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice.
A Birmingham Attorney Could Help After Fatal Construction Site Accidents
Thanks to the way state law addresses wrongful death claims, it is unfortunately very difficult for family members of a construction site worker caught up in a fatal accident to recover compensation for their losses. However, there are means of bending unfriendly state statutes to work in favor of surviving family members, especially with help from seasoned legal representation.
After a fatal construction site accident in Birmingham, the quality of legal counsel you retain could make all the difference in how an ensuing civil claim ultimately concludes. Call today to learn more.