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It is important to feel safe when you are at work. Feeling safe reduces stress, anxiety, and allows you to focus on the logistics of your job. A good day at work, however, can quickly turn into a nightmare when one of your fellow employees, a manager, an angry customer, or a random person commits a violent crime that results in a wrongful death. In these cases, the aftermath can be devastatingly difficult to deal with.

After a wrongful death at a workplace, it can be difficult to determine who to hold responsible. Here are some guidelines that help determine who is liable for a wrongful death caused by a workplace crime:

Perpetrator Liability

The one committing the crime is usually the one held responsible for damages, as it is nearly impossible to predict the actions of another. Violence in the workplace either from an employee attacking another employee, a patron attacking an employee, or someone just looking to cause trouble are an all too common occurrence in the United States. When these incidents happen, the aftermath can be absolutely devastating.

One of the most recent examples of workplace violence that led to a wrongful death was in Annapolis, Maryland in June of 2018. A man walked into the news center of the Capital Gazette and opened fire on the workers with a shotgun. He ended up killing five employees and seriously injuring two others. In this case, the fault lies with the perpetrator, as he took actions against the employees of the Gazette, breaking the law and harming those within the building.

Employer Liability

Under OSHA laws, employers are responsible for ensuring that the workplace is safe for workers. This includes having proper safety equipment and protocols to help reduce the chance of an accident, and procedures to handle an accident safely if one should occur. These laws, however, do not cover workplace crime, as these events are often seen as outside of the employer’s control. However, if the employer was found breaching their duty to their employee when workplace violence occurs, then they can be deemed liable for an incident that leads to an employee’s death.

For example, a manager of a restaurant knows the closing policy that no one is allowed back into the restaurant after the doors close. A young man is banging on the door to be let back in, claiming he left his wallet in the restaurant. The manager – not wanting to make the man upset – opens the locked doors. The man comes in and begins firing, killing one of the hostesses.

While the manager may not have known that the crime was going to take place, he had a duty to follow the guidelines that were created to keep the employees safe. He broke this duty when he allowed the young man to come back into the restaurant after closing time. The young man started shooting, which led to the wrongful death of one of the employees. The manager could be held liable for the wrongful death and the damages to the restaurant, as he failed to follow proper safety procedures.

Wrongful deaths resulting from a workplace crime are absolutely devastating and can lead to the family scrambling to find ways to deal with the emotional trauma, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of income. If you have lost a loved one due to a workplace crime, contact the personal injury attorneys at Juan Hernandez Law P.C. Juan Hernandez is one of the 2% of personal injury attorneys who is Texas Board Certified to practice personal injury law. Call us today for a free case evaluation.