All states have laws on their books governing situations of fatal workplace accidents. Wisconsin families who suffer the loss of a loved one this way have legal options they can consider to help them financially and oftentimes, emotionally. Known as wrongful death claims, each state’s specific laws set forth who can file such a suit, within what time frame it must be filed to be valid and if there is a cap on award amounts.

Families dealing with the shock of their losses might not be thinking of contacting an attorney right away. It can be beneficial to do so, however, for several reasons. One is the opportunity that advocate will have to immediately begin an investigation while evidence and facts are fresh. A widow in another state reportedly made the decision to go forward in this way within days of an accident that killed her husband. This choice may protect her as state and federal authorities conduct their investigations.

The case stems from a Nov. 15 accident at a well-known chemical company. It’s reported that toxic gas allegedly leaked from a broken valve on a crop protection unit. Liquid methyl mercaptan, a hazardous chemical, was stored in the unit. This is a component in insecticide and fungicide, and in natural gas and propane, it creates the detectable odor. Once exposed to air, the chemical becomes a toxic gas.

The complaint alleges that while repairing the failed valve, the plaintiff’s husband inhaled the toxin causing injury that led to his death. Three other workers, one of whom was her brother-in-law, were also killed when the leaking gas spread through the plant. The company and the plant manager are named defendants in the lawsuit.

When negligence or deliberate action or inaction on the part of an employer is tied to a death or injury, survivors may seek compensation. Expenses including medical and funeral bills, as well as anticipated income losses, are sometimes part of a claim. In addition, as in this case, punitive damages designed to punish and deter might be awarded. This widow seeks expenses and $1 million for wrongful death according to the complaint.

Individual circumstances determine strengths and weaknesses of a claim. While families are grieving, experienced counsel can shoulder this task for them and thoughtfully handle options.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Widow Sues DuPont for Fatal Gas Leak” Cameron Langford, Nov. 18, 2014