Atlanta has a large workforce, which means more opportunities for workplace fatalities. While businesses must abide by state and federal laws regarding workplace safety, accidents can still happen. In some cases, employers would rather take the chance of a workplace fatality or injury than spend the money to keep the workplace safe. Trusted Atlanta workplace fatality lawyers investigate cases to determine whether negligence on behalf of the employer played a part in the death of your loved one.
Understanding Workplace Fatalities
When you go to work every day, you expect to go home to your family every evening. However, some jobs are inherently dangerous, so there is always a risk of a fatal accident. First responders, particularly police officers and firefighters, have inherently dangerous jobs. While municipalities try to make these jobs as safe as possible, you can’t predict the actions of others or how a fire is going to affect a structure.
Factories, construction sites, and other workplaces must also follow strict workplace safety regulations. However, accidents can happen despite the care taken to protect employees. In other cases, employers ignore safety regulations in the interest of saving money.
Accidents could even happen where you least expect it, such as in an office or a retail establishment. Regardless of the location, if the employer’s negligence contributed to or caused the loss of a loved one, you could recover damages.
The emotional toll is hard enough when a loved one dies because of a workplace accident, but when another person’s negligence causes the death, whether it is a criminal shooting at a police officer or an employer who doesn’t care enough to provide up-to-date safety equipment, it is even harder on family members.
The last thing you are thinking about is contacting a workplace fatality lawyer in Atlanta, GA. However, that should be one of the first things – after taking care of final arrangements – that you should be thinking of. An Atlanta, GA, workplace fatality lawyer can help you through the tough days of taking care of your loved one’s affairs and starting a claim to ensure you recover the damages you deserve.
Building a Strong Case
While money doesn’t bring back a loved one, you may be entitled to damages related to the loss of your loved one. Damages may include any medical expenses your loved one incurred related to the accident, funeral, and burial costs, loss of future earning capacity, loss of consortium and companionship, and pain and suffering.
To recover the compensation you deserve, a workplace lawyer in Atlanta, GA, must build a case against your loved one’s employer. Your attorney can conduct an investigation into the workplace accident, interview witnesses, and gather evidence, including documentation of safety violations at the workplace.
Some insurance companies will settle the claim for a fair and reasonable amount, while others may deny your case or refuse a fair and reasonable settlement. In those cases, you might have to go to court to recover the compensation you deserve.
An attorney experienced in workplace negligence also has the experience to deal with insurance companies that may try to get out of paying for the negligence of their customers. You have several options to deal with a stubborn insurance company.
Legal Strategies in Workplace Fatality Cases
A workplace fatality lawyer in Atlanta has three paths they can choose from. Regardless of the method, each should end with you getting the compensation you deserve.
While it is up to you how you want to proceed with your case, the fastest way to come to a resolution is through negotiation. In most cases, your attorney will start negotiations with a demand letter that outlines the facts of the case and an amount he or she believes is fair and reasonable.
The insurance company can respond in three ways:
- It can deny the claim.
- It can accept the claim.
- It can send a counteroffer.
In many cases, the insurance company forwards a counteroffer. You can then counter the counteroffer or accept it. Your attorney can advise you on what he thinks you should do, including litigating the matter, especially if you have a strong case or if the employer was grossly negligent.
Mediation / Arbitration
If the insurance company denies your claim or refuses to come to a fair and reasonable agreement, most attorneys file a court case. However, one option that is available, either before or after filing a court case, is mediation or arbitration.
You and the defendant/insurance company meet with a neutral third party experienced in conducting mediations and arbitrations. The facts of the case are presented to the mediator, who then can help you and the defendant come to a fair and reasonable agreement.
The mediator then drafts a settlement agreement, which can be filed with the court if you file a case or held by your attorneys. If the defendant doesn’t keep its end of the settlement agreement, you can take it to court.
Finally, if negotiations and/or mediation don’t work, your attorney can file a court case on your behalf. Once the case is filed with the court and served on your loved one’s employer, it has a set number of days to file a response. Once your attorney files the case, she can gather the evidence required to prove your case in court.
There is no set time for trials, though they take longer than settlement negotiations or mediation. Hearing dates depend on the availability of both attorneys and the court. Sometimes motions are filed during the pendency of the trial. In some cases, depending on the availability of witnesses and documents, it could take anywhere from a month to several months for the discovery phase to be completed.
The Importance of Expert Witnesses in a Workplace Fatality Case
Part of gathering evidence may involve interviewing expert witnesses and preparing them to testify in court. Expert witnesses may be accident investigators, medical professionals, or others who can testify to the causes and results of the accident.
Expert witnesses usually strengthen your legal argument as they are “qualified” by the court as having more expertise about a specific subject matter than others in their field. The defendant may also have expert witnesses to testify for your loved one’s employer, so it’s important to choose experts that have extensive experience in testifying in court.
If you lost a loved one because of a workplace accident, contact a workplace fatalities lawyer in Atlanta, GA, for a free case evaluation.