Workplace accidents present a strange conflict, especially when they result in a fatality. On the one hand, bringing suit against a company grants a much larger target for attempting to recover damages than suing an individual. This can help ease some of the hurts caused by an accident, but by and large, there is no one ultimately held responsible in most cases, even if a company’s negligent policies directly contributed to an injury or death. However, as some prosecutors throughout the nation are attempting, it is possible for an employer to be sentenced for workplace accidents if the stars align just right.
Most of the time, when attorneys discuss a workplace accident, there can be a tendency to focus on recovering damages and maximizing workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of their clients. While these are important aspects of any injury or wrongful death suit, for the hundreds and thousands of mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children of those who were injured or killed on the job, the real issue is who is going to answer for their loss. A company can write a check with many zeroes in the “amount” field, but at some point, this does not compare to a real human being with a name of his or her own being sentenced because the what happened.
For those who want to see an executive personally sentenced for his or her role in accident, the road forward is not a simple or easy one. Furthermore, while a civil lawsuit is relatively straightforward to bring against an individual, motivating a prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against the head of a company for what is essentially in a no-man’s-land between civil and criminal activity can be difficult.
The good news here is more of a silver lining. In the current legal climate, there is a turning tide headed towards criminal charges for executives for workplace accidents, but they are still uncommon. The convictions that have been secured are generally much lighter than other kinds of criminal charges.
If you are still motivated to explore how to see the head of a company charged in relation to an accident, you will want to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you understand all the various components of your case and ensure that you fully understand the battle you are looking to fight for justice.
Source: Philly.com, “Prosecutors make new efforts to jail executives for workplace deaths,” Jane M. Von Bergen, accessed Nov. 08, 2016