Freezing Hazards And Wrongful Death
Wrongful Death Attorney
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits arising out of injury of fatality caused by freezing are unusual. They typically arise in 2 different contexts. First, we see cases where a resident at a nursing home escapes, usually due to underlying dementia, and wanders away from the long-term care facility. These individuals are prone to all types of injuries, including freezing death, drowning and being struck by a car. The second scenario where freezing deaths occur is when an inexperienced individual abuses alcohol and then falls asleep outside in cold weather. In some situations, these types of freezing deaths may give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit if the overconsumption of alcohol is related to hazing by a fraternity or sports team. Social host or dram shop liability may also arise when the death is related to serving alcohol to a minor.
Recently, a news account reported on a completely different source of freezing death. Industrial nitrogen was implicated in the death of six individuals who worked at a poultry processing plant. The plant used liquid nitrogen to flash freeze chicken. However, in this instance, liquid nitrogen leaked from its canister thereby exposing several employees to the extreme freezing effects of the chemical. When the employees entered the room where the leak occurred, their lungs instantly froze. The coroner reported the cause of death as “asphyxia due to, or as a consequence of, liquid nitrogen exposure.”
In addition to the five men and their female coworker, several other workers sustained injury from exposure to the liquid nitrogen. Several wrongful death lawsuits have been filed. Generally, when an individual sustains injury or is killed on the job, compensation is limited to benefits under the state’s Workers Compensation system. However, in some situations, recovery can be had outside of the Workmen’s Compensation system if the injury is caused by a third party. Third parties might include the manufacturer of a defective product or a negligent employee of another company.
In this case, the lawsuits were brought against the industrial gas company that supplied the liquid nitrogen. The wrongful death lawyers alleged that the leak occurred due to faulty valve fittings. However, it is also clear that the lawsuit was needed in order for the wrongful death lawyers to get access to the leaky container in order to conduct testing to determine the cause of the leak. In settings like this, testing will often be performed by multiple parties, including OSHA, the victim’s employer, the supplier’s lawyers and the victim’s lawyers. Rules exist requiring that defective products, equipment or materials that are implicated in a wrongful death or serious workplace accident must be preserved for examination by all concerned parties. If one of the parties destroys the defective item, this is tantamount to the destruction of evidence. Courts will imply that the party who destroyed the property was at fault. This is called a negative inference.
When a serious workplace accident like this occurs, it is important to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible so that he or she can preserve evidence and begin an investigation immediately. If you have questions about a wrongful death case, you should contact a wrongful death attorney, in Cleveland, OH, like the office of Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. to determine your rights.