Young life cut short on Missouri jobsite

We read recently of a young man who was just 22 years old when his life came to an end without warning and without reason. He was at work as an apprentice ironworker -- a new job he had only held for a few weeks -- when he fell from a steel girder just nine inches wide. The fall of more than 30 feet killed him.

According to a statement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the young worker and his "dreams of marriage, children and exploring the great outdoors" died together on that jobsite about 150 miles north of Joplin. OSHA cited his employer for safety violations that contributed to the worker's needless death.

The worker's life was "cut short because his employer failed to provide fall protection, a violation of its own safety manual and OSHA rules," the federal agency stated in a recent press release. Think of how wide that girder was that held the worker aloft -- just nine inches wide -- and yet he was provided no fall protection on that Kansas City, Missouri, worksite. OSHA has fined the employer more than $500,000 in the matter.

In similar situations, the employer will often fail to even acknowledge the death or apologize to the worker's grieving family. The employer and the employer's insurer fear being held legally and financially responsible for the fatal fall caused by employer negligence, and so they hold their tongues.

Many times, the insurer will contact the grieving family and offer to settle the matter quickly, offering what can seem at first glance to be substantial compensation. It's at this point that it makes sense for the family to sit down with an experienced wrongful death attorney who knows not only the law, but is also familiar with insurance company tactics. An experienced attorney also understands which kinds of settlements benefit the family and which kinds benefit the insurer, and helps the family sort through its options.

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