Fitzsimmons Law Firm recently obtained a $1 Million settlement for the family of a worker killed in a workplace accident. The $1 Million represents the total amount of available insurance limits. The plaintiffs' decedent was employed as a truck driver for an oil and gas company. The plaintiffs' decedent was hauling petroleum contaminated drill cuts and traveling on U.S. Route 250 in Marshall County, West Virginia when the truck he was driving lost its brakes. As a result, the plaintiffs' decedent crashed through a guard rail and plummeted approximately 150 feet into the woods below. He sustained critical injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Marshall County, West Virginia against the employer alleging that it acted with "deliberate intention" as that term is defined in W.Va. Code § 23-4-2(d)(2)(ii). In West Virginia, employers are immune from liability for negligently inflicted work place injuries. In order to pursue a lawsuit against an employer, the employee must be able to prove that the employer acted with "deliberate intention." This can be proven by essentially showing that the employer knowingly exposed a workers to an unsafe working condition which was a violation of an applicable safety rule, regulation, or statute, or a written industry standard.
In the Complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the employer intentionally exposed the plaintiffs' decedent to known specific unsafe working conditions which presented a high degree of risk and strong probability of serious injury or death by, but not limited to: failing to supply him with a workplace free of recognized hazards; failing to maintain the subject oil and gas truck in a safe operating condition; failing to properly train the plaintiffs' decedent; failing to implement and enforce an adequate and comprehensive pre-operation inspection program to identify, report, and correct unsafe conditions; and failing to properly inspect all trucks to identify defects and unsafe working conditions. The plaintiffs sought all damages recoverable under the law, including: pre-death fear, pain and suffering; the lost wages of the decedent; funeral and burial expenses; lost household services; and compensation for sorrow, mental anguish, and solace and the loss of the decedent's society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices, and advice.
The defendants heavily contested liability and claimed that the accident was caused by operator error and that the brakes were not defective.
The case ultimately settled for $1 Million which is the limits of the total applicable insurance.