Tragically, a refinery explosion and industrial fires often result in the deaths of workers, others who happen to be at the facility at the wrong time, firefighters and other first responders, and those who may live in the communities surrounding the facility.
Rights of Recovery for Wrongful Death from a Refinery Explosion
A family who has lost a loved one in a refinery explosion or fire usually can only recover against their loved one’s employer for workers’ compensation death benefits under state workers’ compensation laws. They may also be entitled to death benefits provided under any applicable insurance policies of the employer, as well as any other life insurance that may be in effect for their loved one. The family is not limited by workers’ compensation laws for seeking recovery against other persons or companies who may also be liable for a refinery explosion or fire.
As a result, the family of a refinery employee will be limited to workers’ compensation death benefits from the refinery employer, and the family of a contractor at the refinery will be limited to workers’ compensation death benefits from the contractor employer. However, the family of a refinery employee will not be limited by workers’ compensation in a lawsuit against a contractor who may be at fault, and the family of a contractor employee will not be limited by workers’ compensation in a lawsuit against the refinery.
Firefighters and First Responders
Under the Firefighter’s Rule, firefighters in many (but not all) jurisdictions will not be able to recover against those causing a refinery fire. We can advise you as to how or whether the Firefighter’s Rule will affect your case. For more information, see “Just for Firefighters.”
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Workers’ compensation death benefits vary from state to state, so it is important to understand the workers’ compensation benefits that are applicable. In addition, to the death benefit, workers’ compensation in many states also provides for a lump-sum payment for funeral expenses.
How Much Can Our Family Recover for the Wrongful Death Arising from a Refinery Explosion or Fire from a Non-Employer at Fault?
For an action against a company or party other than the employer of the person killed, a family may be entitled to damages for:
- Loss of economic support resulting from the loss of wages that their love one would have otherwise earned over the course of their lifetime. The amount of these wages is dependent upon factors including the person’s occupation and income at the time of death, the number of years that the person likely would have worked, likely increases in compensation, and other factors.
- Pain and Suffering (also called “Survival Actions,” which are available in some states). In some states, the estate of the decedent or the estate’s beneficiaries are entitled to recover for pain and suffering incurred by the person injured prior to his or her death, including the fear of imminent death.
- Loss of consortium, companionship, or parental guidance. States differ on who is entitled to sue for loss of consortium, companionship or parental guidance, but typically spouses, minor children, and parents of minor children are entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation is determined by a jury, usually based upon what they believe to be fair concerning the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Loss of the prospect of inheritance. In some cases and states, those who would have otherwise inherited from the person who died may have a claim for the lost prospect of inheritance (although such an inheritance recovery may be reduced by compensation paid for lost support).
Making Your Case
As with all personal injury cases, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel so that your case can best be presented to a jury. At our firm, in making a case for lost wages, we rely on economic experts and others to determine the likely lost wages that will be suffered by the decedent’s family, as well as testimony (and sometimes video) to show how the loss of the decedent affected, and will continue to affect, the loved ones left behind. This is the only way to ensure that families receive the full compensation to which they are entitled.
Learn More about the Compensation to Which You May Be Entitled
To learn more about recovering compensation in the event of a death from a refinery or industrial explosion or fire, please call us to schedule a free consultation. We accept cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that there is no fee to our firm unless and until a recovery is obtained.