- April 4, 2023
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Wrongful Death
Being a construction site worker has its inherent dangers, whether falling from a roof, getting injured by a power tool, or being hit by falling debris. In the worst accidents, workers can die. If you ask, “Can I sue for wrongful death in a construction site fall in Georgia?” the answer is almost always “yes.”
Of the 5,333 employees in the U.S. who died on the job in 2019, roughly 1 in 5 were construction workers, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). That means 20% of all fatalities in private industry (1,061 people) were in construction.
Getting injured in a construction accident has implications for an entire family because it means time off work, lost income, huge medical bills, and sometimes permanent disability for the person injured. If the accident results in death, the implications are even more catastrophic for a family. You may be entitled to financial compensation if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a construction site accident. This is especially true if someone else’s negligence caused the accident. A skilled and experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer can assess your case and explain your legal rights.
Who You Can Sue for Wrongful Death After a Fall at a Construction Site
To be successful in a wrongful death case, it’s important to identify the parties responsible for the accident and prove that they were negligent. In some cases, more than one party might be responsible. These parties could include:
- General contractor
- Real estate developer
- Equipment manufacturer
- Jobsite supervisor
- Materials manufacturer.
Fatal construction accidents may be caused by disregard for safety precautions, sub-standard materials, poorly maintained equipment, unreasonable deadlines, or a combination of all of these. You are entitled to financial compensation if your loved one died because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence.
Causes of Non-Fatal and Fatal Construction Accidents
Falls from scaffolding, sunstroke, electrocution, and machinery malfunctions can all result in fatal construction site accidents. There is a great deal of activity and heavy equipment, all moving at the same time on a construction site. Add to that power lines, inclement weather, and tight schedules, and this can be a recipe for disaster.
In 2019, 11.4 million workers were employed in the construction industry in the U.S., and falls remain the leading cause of work-related deaths in construction. Falls account for more than 36% of the total number of fatalities in this industry, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists the most common safety code violations on construction sites as follows:
- Inadequate fall protection
- Unsafe scaffolding
- Unsafe or improperly used ladders
- Lack of fall prevention training
- Eye and face protection not being used
- Inadequate hazard communication
- Head protection not being used
- Improper use or maintenance of aerial lifts.
Common injuries on a construction site due to these problems can include:
- Broken bones
- Cuts, lacerations, and abrasions
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Puncture wounds
- Exposure to chemicals or hazardous materials
- Broken neck or back.
Because falls at construction sites often mean falls from great heights, they are frequently fatal. Whether falling off a roof of a single-family house or falling several floors off of an office building that is under construction, the results can be catastrophic and lead to wrongful death claims. After answering “yes” to your question, “Can I sue for wrongful death in a construction site fall in Georgia?” your attorney can address other questions regarding how your case will proceed.
How Your Attorney Proves Your Case in a Wrongful Death Construction Accident
To make a successful claim for wrongful death, your attorney must show that the other party acted in a way that was careless or showed disregard for your loved one. In other words, they were negligent.
To prove negligence, your construction accident lawyer will have to prove four elements in your lawsuit. These are:
The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal “duty of care” to ensure a safe workplace.
A plaintiff must show that the defendant breached this duty by doing or failing to do something that a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
A plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions, or inaction, caused the death of their loved one.
Damages mean that there’s a monetary way of compensating a plaintiff for the loss of their loved one.
After determining that someone was negligent in the death of your loved one, your lawyer will help you ascertain the compensation you may be able to collect. This will involve adding up your damages and asking you some tough questions about the accident.
Georgia uses a comparative negligence standard in wrongful death construction accident claims. A portion of the blame for the accident is assigned to each party in a lawsuit. Damages are then awarded based on those percentages. For example, if the damages in your wrongful death claim total $500,000 but your family member is found to be 10% at fault, you can collect $450,000.
You cannot collect damages if a judge or jury determines that the decedent was 50% or more responsible.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia?
Under the Georgia Code, if someone is married at the time of their wrongful death, their spouse can bring a suit. If the victim wasn’t married, any of the victim’s children could do so.
Another section of the Georgia code provides that if someone is unmarried and has no children, their parents can bring a wrongful death claim. If another party makes no claim, the deceased’s estate can make one.
What Damages Can I Get For Wrongful Death?
If your loved one died in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to several types of damages. Damages can range from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the specifics of your case.
In Georgia, family members are entitled to compensation for both the economic and non-economic costs of a death caused by another person’s actions. These may include:
- Lost benefits and wages the deceased might have earned
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s last illness or injury
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering the deceased person endured before death
- Loss of companionship, care, and other intangible benefits the deceased would have provided.
One of the best ways to determine how much you may be entitled to is to speak to a skilled and experienced wrongful death attorney.
How Much Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?
It is difficult to put an exact number on the damages you can receive because it varies based on your loved one’s age, future earnings capacity, medical expenses, and other factors. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help ensure you get the maximum compensation possible for your case.
How Long Do You Have to Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia?
You have two years to file a claim for wrongful death in Georgia. It is important to note that, unlike other personal injury claims, the clock starts ticking on the date of death rather than on the date of the accident. You are not punished under the law for not acting more quickly if your loved one was hurt before succumbing to construction accident fall injuries.
Some exceptions to the statute of limitations give you more time. But if you miss the statute of limitations to file your claim, you can’t recover, even if it is clear that the construction company or another party was negligent.
So, the best answer to “How long do you have to sue for a wrongful death in Georgia?” is provided by a lawyer well-versed in Georgia law who can look at the circumstances of your case and make sure your claim is filed on time.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
The Stoddard Firm has helped countless families get the justice they deserve when they’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident.
We understand that no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, but it can offer a way to provide for and protect surviving family members now and in the future.
Our legal team is compassionate, caring, and skilled when handling these cases. We will walk beside you every step of the way, and you will never be alone in the legal process. We treat every client with the utmost respect and care because we understand you are going through a difficult time.
If you would like to find out more about the legal process and get answers to your questions, please give us a call at 678-737-8587. We are here to help.