It’s absolutely astounding when it’s put into perspective: a new report from MSNBC revealed that more Americans died as a result of workplace accidents in 2009 alone, than during the entire course of the nine-year Iraq War.
The number of people killed on the job in the United States in 2009 was 4,551. As of May 18, 2011, the number of servicemen killed in combat totaled 4,770. Nevertheless, an estimated 50,0000 people also die each year of work-related diseases such as illnesses suffered from asbestos exposure or chemical inhalation. As one MSNBC reporter put it, “it’s as if a fully loaded Boeing 737-700 crashed every day” for a year.
Seemingly contrary to these statistics, special laws are in place to protect the rights of workers: the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 entitles American workers to “safe and healthful” conditions in their workplaces, and in Illinois, persons or companies responsible for maintaining a safe work environment may be held legally responsible in Chicago workplace injury lawsuits.
Even so, devastating incidents occur, causing injury and death to thousands of workers each year. Worse yet, MSNBC reports, the recession has made American workplaces seem safer than they are, though conditions have not changed. The fact that the environments appear to have gotten better is, itself, a disincentive for change. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the struggling economy has led to fewer workers and fewer hours in high-risk industries such as construction. Fewer workers means fewer individuals to be injured, and fewer hours means that there is less opportunity for harm to be done, not that conditions have improved.
Supporting this notion is the latest government tally: in the past year, there have been 4,690 worker deaths in the United States, up 3 percent from 2009. What’s more, the U.S. workplace fatality rate remains roughly six times that of the United Kingdom, which has stricter safety rules, says MSNBC.
Workplace injury is far too common, devastating thousands of families each year. Under Illinois law, wrongful death is the legal concept that arises when a person’s death has been caused by the fault or negligence of another person or corporation. In workplace injury cases, companies are responsible for ensuring that they provide a safe working environment for their employees. When a company hires a person to perform the job of safeguarding the workplace, the company can potentially be held legally responsible when that person acts negligently because it was the duty of that company to either provide proper training and supervision to the person in charge of safety, or hire someone who was better qualified to perform the job.
In Illinois wrongful death cases family members can file claims to potentially make the wrongdoer pay damages for things such as the loss of companionship, monetary damages to cover the earnings the deceased person would have provided, and expenses associated with the death such as funeral and burial costs, as well as having to experience grief and sorrow as a result of losing a loved one.
Though a lawsuit can never bring a loved one back to life, it is a step in the right direction, both for achieving justice, and making those at fault pay for their careless actions. Contact an attorney if you have lost a loved one due to a workplace accident; you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering.