Vehicle accidents are among the most common events that lead to wrongful death claims in Missouri. Not all vehicle accidents occur on public roads and highways, however. Many occur at worksites and involve one employee striking another with a vehicle.
Fatal accidents involving vehicles in workplaces are of particular concern because they are largely preventable. Victims can be struck by a variety of construction and manufacturing vehicles, including tractors, trucks, cranes, yard trucks, and forklifts. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplace fatalities involving motor vehicle accidents account for 15 percent of work-related deaths.
OSHA’s Kansas City regional inspectors examined 37 vehicle-related fatal workplace accidents from 2008 to March 2013 in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. In 57 percent of these accidents, vehicles hit and killed workers; in the other 43 percent of the accidents, the vehicle operators were killed.
The fatalities in the OSHA report were spread across many different industries and companies, but two main areas accounted for the majority of deaths. According to OSHA, 70 percent of deaths happened in general industry work sites. Twenty-four percent occurred at construction sites.
Fatal vehicle crashes or incidents are preventable in every industry. When a worker dies in an on-the-job vehicle accident, the surviving family members are entitled to recover workers’ compensation death benefits under Missouri law. These benefits are recoverable regardless of whether the employer was at fault.
In some cases, a party other than the employer may have caused the accident. This can happen, for example, when a worker is killed by a truck making deliveries to the job site. If the truck driver was negligent, the driver and his or her employer can be liable to the victim’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit. In such a case the family can recover damages not available under workers’ compensation.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “Struck by vehicle incidents cause 15 percent of workplace fatalities“, accessed on Dec. 22, 2014