A terrible workplace accident in Webster County, Missouri, left one worker dead and five others with severe personal injuries. The incident highlights how Missouri’s workers’ compensation law leaves wrongful death victims and their families unprotected.
TV Tower Falls: One Dead and Five Hurt
The incident happened on the morning of Thursday, April 19, 2018. A repair crew was working on a TV tower in Webster County, 25 miles east of Springfield, Missouri. At 11am, though, the 1,980-foot-tall tower collapsed.
56-year-old Stephen Lemay, from Washington state, was working on the tower when it went down. He was killed in the collapse.
Five other workers were also on the tower at the time. They all suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Three were transported to Springfield for medical attention.
The workers were on the bottom portion of the tower when it collapsed, though they were still around 100 feet off the ground. Initial reports indicate that they were replacing crossbeams.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
When something goes wrong at the worksite and a worker gets hurt, they are put in an awkward position. If they sue to get the compensation they need for their injuries, they will likely lose their job. But if they don’t sue, they will probably not make a full recovery.
The goal of workers’ compensation is to avoid this situation by making employers pay regular contributions to a pool of money. This money is then used to cover much of an injured worker’s costs of recovery. In return, though, the worker’s exclusive remedy is this workers’ compensation coverage: They are not allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
Wrongful Death Claims and Survivors’ Benefits
Unfortunately, one of the lawsuits that workers’ compensation prevents is a wrongful death claim if the injury proved to be a fatal one. Instead, the victim’s family can only utilize the survivors’ benefits of Missouri’s workers’ compensation plan.
When a worker dies while on the job, eligible beneficiaries like the worker’s spouse or young children can receive a share of weekly workers’ compensation payments. These payments are for two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage from the year prior to the accident. They are split equally between all of the eligible beneficiaries. Missouri law caps this amount, though, at an amount currently just below $1,000 per week. These benefits continue until beneficiaries become ineligible.
In addition to these weekly payments, survivors’ benefits also include $5,000 towards funeral expenses.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
While survivors’ benefits might seem like adequate compensation after losing a loved one in a workplace accident, they pale in comparison to what you truly deserve. Luckily, there are legal options, like products liability claims, that take you around the workers’ compensation scheme and get you the compensation you really deserve.