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Fatal workplace accidents up slightly in West Virginia

Some people are more prone to accidents than others, but almost everyone experiences some kind of accident from time to time. Whether an accident occurs at home, on the roadways or at work, most accidents do not end with fatalities. Occasionally, however, an accident does result in death, and many times those fatal accidents are preventable.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is part of the United States Department of Labor, compiles data on the number of fatal workplace accidents throughout the country each year. The most recent available data is for the year 2012, and it shows that in West Virginia, 47 people lost their lives in fatal workplace accidents. That number climbed from only 43 such workplace deaths in the prior year.

Of the 47 fatal accidents in West Virginia, 18 involved transportation, which is the same number of transportation-related workplace deaths that occurred in 2011. Twelve of the deaths resulted from the victim having some kind of contact with objects and equipment, including eight that resulted from falling objects or equipment. Violence by people or animals was the cause of six workplace deaths and exposure to harmful substances or environmental conditions accounted for seven workplace fatalities in 2012.

While 47 workplace deaths may not sound like an alarmingly high number, that is no consolation to the families of those victims. Losing a loved one in this kind of unexpected way can be even more difficult when the victim was the primary provider for the family.

Under West Virginia law, families who are in the difficult situation of having to deal with the loss a loved have available legal options. Following a fatal workplace accident, the family will be entitled to recover workers' compensation death benefits. And while the workers' compensation ordinarily bars a civil lawsuit against the employer, if defectively designed equipment or a negligent third party played a role in causing the accident, the family may have a cause of action to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

No matter what kind of accident claims the victim, dealing with the aftermath is never easy for that person's loved ones. Legal action can never make the family whole again, but it can help them with the accident-related financial losses.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Workplace Fatalities in West Virginia - 2012," Accessed on Oct. 19, 2014

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