This is a story about a tragic accident resulting from negligence. It’s also a story about how safeguards built into the legal process to protect the innocent are abused by those looking to avoid responsibility—and damages—resulting from their own negligence.
And finally, it’s a story about our determination to protect our client despite the responsible party’s efforts to improperly exploit the legal process.
Going the distance
Sam* and Myrna* had been married for more than 20 years. To say they were dedicated to each other would be an understatement. Yet Sam’s work frequently took him out of town for extended periods of time. Those absences were borne out of necessity for Sam to provide for his family, but Sam and Myrna made the most of the time they had together. Myrna would sometimes drive an hour or more to Sam’s worksite, taking him the lunch she had prepared so they could spend time together.
Sam was a roofing construction worker. It had been his trade for more than 25 years. He worked for many different companies over his career, going where the work was and traveling as far and as often as necessary to support his family.
One of the companies he occasionally worked for, OBS Construction*, sent him and a crew to a commercial roofing job in Northeast Ohio. Sam reluctantly took the assignment—he’d had less than favorable experiences working for the company before and the company had earned a reputation for treating its employees poorly. But Sam needed the work. So he took the job anyway.
A fatal step
OBS sent the crew to the worksite without properly inspecting the roof or providing the proper safety equipment required for the job. The job was a disaster, and the company’s failures proved to be deadly for Sam.
Sam was walking across the roof when he unexpectedly fell through an unmarked and unguarded industrial skylight. The fall killed him instantly.
Anyone in the crew could have made that fatal step as the industrial skylights on this building were not easily identifiable like those in residential buildings. Had a proper initial inspection been conducted or proper safety equipment been provided, this tragedy would have been avoided and Sam would still be alive.
There was clearly negligence on the part of OBS. But OBS refused to see it that way.
No remorse? No liability?
Like many men, Sam had served several roles in his life: husband, father, grandfather. He was also the family’s primary provider. In the event of his death, that role fell to Myrna—though she was ill-suited to take it. Her health had been declining for several years; she could no longer work and was under doctor’s orders not to travel.
OBS’s disdain for its employees carried over into the way the company treated Myrna. It refused responsibility for Sam’s death, did everything it could to cause delay in the process, and even claimed that it had provided safety equipment but that the equipment had been used improperly (all of which we later proved to be untrue).
At such a vulnerable time in Myrna’s life, the tactics used to defend against Sam’s claim were insulting and incredibly damaging to Myrna and her kids.
Ohio wrongful death attorneys help with worker’s compensation
When Myrna came to us, it was clear she needed not only legal expertise, but strength as well. She needed to believe someone was on her side when it seemed to her that the entire legal system was working against her. Her grief was profound, and will probably always be a part of her life. But that didn’t mean she shouldn’t receive the fair compensation due to her as a result of Sam’s wrongful death.
We advised her of her options under worker’s compensation law in Ohio. OBS opposed her claims at each step in the legal process. To this day, OBS hasn’t prevailed at a single stage of the process, despite many rounds of appeals.
Appeals have an important function in the law. They provide a process for correcting errors or clarifying legal interpretations. But in this case, the appeals process was used by OBS and its attorneys as a means of delaying justice.
After more than three years, five attempts at appeal, thousands of dollars in time and expense, Myrna has finally prevailed. She has held OBS responsible and obtained a decision letting OBS know they were wrong and accountable for her husband’s death.
When there is a wrongful death, someone must be held responsible. It’s our role as wrongful death attorneys to persist and prevail on behalf of our client’s right to justice—despite any misuses of the appeals process and the legal system.
If you ever need the help of a wrongful death attorney or assistance navigating the worker’s comp system, give us a call—we’re here to help.
The outcome of any client’s case will depend on the particular legal and factual circumstances of the case.
*Names in this article have been changed to protect our client’s privacy.