As is the case across the country, whenever there is a death at a job site here in Arizona, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts an investigation. Their findings often reveal the party or parties who could be held liable for the fatal work injuries that brought about the investigation. This information might be used by surviving family members if they pursue a wrongful death claim.
For example, back in May, an approximately nine- to 11-foot-deep trench at a construction site in another state collapsed. Three men became trapped, but only one of them survived with serious injuries. The other two men, ages 26 and 36, died as a result of mechanical asphyxia. In October, OSHA issued its report regarding the incident in which it blamed the construction company for the tragedy.
The widow of the 36-year-old man recently filed a lawsuit against several Idaho agencies using details from OSHA's report. The widow claims that the agencies provided the permits to the construction company and failed to perform inspections. OSHA reported that the company failed to provide its employees with the proper safety measures and equipment.
Here in Arizona, surviving family members of those who suffer fatal work injuries are often eligible for death benefits through the state's workers' compensation system. In addition, third parties might also be held civilly liable for the death if the evidence supports it. A successfully litigated claim could result in additional restitution for the financial burdens the family incurred in the aftermath of the death of their loved one, and perhaps even some sense of justice.
Source: idahopress.com, "Tort claim filed in fatal trench collapse", Ruth Brown, Nov. 4, 2016