It goes without saying that many Iowa residents work dangerous jobs. Employers have a legal duty to ensure that their workers have a safe environment in which to work as well as proper training and equipment to enhance safety. However, sometimes these employers fail in their duties and horrific accidents occur.
Workers' compensation exists to protect and provide for injured workers, but sometimes, tragic events run too deep for this system to work as a remedy. When death occurs because of an employer's alleged failure in his or her duty, the worker's family may choose to seek a legal solution.
This is what one family did after losing a father and husband to a work accident. The victim fell 12 feet from a ladder while working at the Apartments Downtown located in Iowa City. Unfortunately, the man died after his accident from injuries to the brain. Reports indicate that a lift vehicle equipped with safety equipment was available, but the owner of the apartments told the victim not to use the vehicle because he did not want to acquire a permit.
The victim's wife filed a lawsuit in 2016 claiming that the property owner was "grossly negligent in failing to maintain a safe work environment." The lawsuit also claims the owner did not train his employees. The jury recently returned a verdict in the case, ordering the property owner to pay the victim's family—a wife, two adult children and one minor child—$5.6 million.
Reportedly, no one was in charge of job site safety at the apartment building where the accident occurred. The property owner also admitted by deposition that he had not received any formal safety training before the victim's fall occurred.
Source: The Gazette, "Apartments Downtown ordered to pay $5.6 million after worker's death," Madison Arnold, Feb. 13, 2018