Rios Law Firm PLLC

Fatal workplace accident leads to prison sentence for employer

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety standards with which employers in Arizona and other states must comply. Employers who violate those standards put the lives of workers at risk. A victim of a workplace accident is typically eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who was at fault.

However, if it can be shown that a workplace accident resulted from an employer's gross negligence, criminal charges might be filed. If there is probable cause for criminal charges, there might also be grounds for a civil lawsuit. One such a case followed the 2017 death of a 39-year-old roof worker in another state. OSHA investigators found that the roofing contractor failed to provide the worker with fall protection while he worked on the roof of a three-story building.

The court found that the employer willfully disregarded safety regulations. He received a three-year prison sentence for noncompliance with safety regulations. Also, he failed to provide workers' compensation coverage, and he now has to pay more than $300,000 to the state workers' compensation system after pleading guilty to fraud.

Losing a loved one in a workplace accident is naturally a traumatic experience, and if there is no workers' compensation coverage, the surviving family members might have to deal with severe financial consequences. If something like this happens to an Arizona family, an experienced attorney can assess the circumstances and suggest the most appropriate way to pursue financial relief. With the employer already found guilty of gross negligence, it can improve their chances of a successful wrongful death claim against the company.

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