According to a recent news article from WCVB 5 News Boston, fatal Boston work accidents are at the highest levels they have been since 2000, and this is justifiably causing serious concern. This not only includes the City of Boston, but also fatal work accidents in the Greater Boston metro area, including cities such as Cambridge, Newton, Natick, and the north and south shores.
Number of Work-Related Deaths in Boston Metro Area at Near Record Highs
As discussed in this news article, 75 lives have been lost by workers in the Boston metropolitan area in 2016 alone. In actual numbers, this was an increase in 27 worker fatalities, but in terms of percentages, we are looking at an approximately 56 percent increase from the previous year. Our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers fight for the rights of injured workers and their families. Each one of these cases is tragic. Each one of these numbers represents a real person with a real family whose lives will never be the same as a result of this tragic and untimely death while on the job in Boston. For this reason, the best thing a family member of a deceased worker can do is to make sure they hire an experienced Boston workers’ compensation attorney who not only knows the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation system, but also a wrongful death attorney who will look at all available means of recovery. You want an attorney who will take the time to explain what is going on and to listen to the needs and concerns of the family members while fighting for the highest possible financial compensation the law and the facts will allow.
Workers’ Compensation involving Fatal Boston Workplace Accident
In a fatal Boston workplace accident, or work-related illness, which results in a loss of life, damages are typically going to include any medical bills associated with the fatal injury or illness, reasonable funeral and burial expenses pursuant to Section 33 of Chapter 152 of Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.), and lost wages in the case of a worker with dependents who were relying on his or her wages prior to the worker’s death. This is often paid in the form of a lump sum payment or as a long-term benefits award. It is often possible to accept a one-time payment at a lower amount if the family is unable to wait for years to receive the greater amount of benefits in monthly payments. But this is something about which you should speak with an experienced Boston workplace injury lawyer because every case is different, depending on the needs and relationships of dependent family members.
The key here is these cases operate very differently than a personal injury action. In a fatal workers’ compensation case in Boston, only dependent children who are living at home in the custody of the deceased worker and a surviving spouse who was dependent on the deceased worker’s salary will be entitled to benefits in most cases. As a matter of law, adult children whether they are living at home or not will not typically be able to apply for workers’ compensation lost wages death benefits unless they suffer from a physical or mental disability and were living at home because they were unable to support themselves on their own. This goes beyond just not having a job and living at home. In the case of a surviving spouse, his or her income from other sources will be considered as part of the calculations as to whether he or she is considered a dependent of the deceased workers for the purpose of workers’ compensation death benefits in Massachusetts.
Boston Metro Area Worker Death Data Compared to Other Areas in U.S.
In the U.S., the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded a total of 5,190 fatal on the job injuries in the nation in the same year we are looking at with respect to Boston fatal workplace accidents. In the previous year, there were roughly 4,830 worker deaths so there was an overall increase nationally as well. This is the highest federal numbers have been since 2008, illustrating a national problem as well as a local problem. On the other hand, in 2012, numbers in the Greater Boston area were at a near record low in recent years so the increase is seen as a relatively recent trend.
Both locally and nationally, construction accidents contributed the highest number of fatal workplace accidents, but this should come as no big surprise. The most common causes of worker deaths are falls, being hit by falling objects, being electrocuted, and being hit by large equipment, all of which are present on a regular basis on construction sites in Boston and elsewhere. These four causes are often referred to as the Fatal Four causes of worker deaths in the United States, and specifically in construction accidents.
Aside from construction accidents, the next largest type of workplace death involves exposure to toxic substances or harsh and toxic environments. This can include chemical spills and out gassing at various factories.
Fatal Work-Related Illness
One of the more common causes of work-related illness that can result in death is exposure to asbestos. When these deadly fibers are inhaled, there is no way for the body to expel them. Over the course of 20 to 50 years, with 40 years being the national average, these fibers can cause the body to form deadly mesothelioma tumors. Since asbestos illness is often due to occupational exposure, it is best to speak with an attorney who handles both workers’ compensation cases and mesothelioma litigation if you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or one of the other asbestos-related illnesses.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Fatal work injuries in metro Boston at highest level since 2000, May 14, 2018, By Michael P. Norton, WCVB Boston News
More Blog Entries:
Third-Party Liability in Massachusetts Work-Related Injuries, Deaths, March 13, 2018, Boston Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog