Handling Wrongful Death in the Workplace in Massachusetts

In a world like ours, the marvels of science and engineering have made dangerous jobs much safer. Though construction-related deaths and accidents have fallen significantly over the past century, accidental deaths still devastate our families and communities.

A month ago, a boulder crushed a construction worker at a library in Woburn. The accident traumatized scores of people, from the builder’s coworkers and family to the company’s president. The embedded
video captured by the CBS News vividly displays the feeling of despair. Through the pain of a loss caused by a work accident, many may need guidance through the lawsuit process.

Wrongful Death in Massachusetts

The 190th General Court of theCommonwealth of MassachusettsGeneral LawsPart III Chapter 229-Actions for Death and Injuries Resulting in Death

In most Boston wrongful death cases, recoveries are limited to the deceased’s spouse, children, and grandchildren. However, in some situations, a financial recovery may be possible for other next of kin. Wrongful death claims must be brought by the deceased’s executor (the person responsible for taking care of the deceased’s final affairs), and generally, must be commenced within three years of the date of death.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, the financial compensation available through a wrongful death claim (and a companion “survival action”) may include:

  • The deceased’s medical expenses
  • The deceased’s pain and suffering prior to death
  • Loss of the deceased’s income
  • Loss of the deceased’s services, protection, care, assistance, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Punitive damages in cases involving malicious, willful, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct

Determining If It Was a Wrongful Death

When considering a lawsuit, it can be prudent to understand how wrongful death is determined in court. There are four measures for testing wrongful death:

Determining Wrongful Death

Breach of Duty

A successful plaintiff will prove that the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit owed a duty to the deceased victim. For example, medical practitioners take the Hippocratic Oath to maintain and nurture a patient’s health. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to define how the defendant’s duty existed, and how that the duty was breached through their negligence.


The surviving members or their legal representatives must prove the death of their loved one was caused (in part or in whole) by the carelessness, recklessness, or negligence in the actions of the defendant.


In addition to defining the breach of duty that took place with respect to the plaintiff’s party, the plaintiff must also demonstrate how the defendant’s negligence directly led to their loved one’s death.


The death of the victim must be measurable, in an objective manner. Generally, this measure consists of two types of costs: economic, and emotional. Economic costs come in the form of hospital bills, and the loss of income and potential earnings. The pain and suffering of the victim prior to death, as well as that endured by the victim’s family fall under the emotional category.

Contact Us

Photo of Attorney John Sheehan- Boston, MA

If these points sound familiar to your own experience, you may want to consider pursuing a wrongful death suit. Losing a family member that provides emotional and financial support can turn everything upside-down fast.

A financial settlement won’t bring back a loved one, but it will ease the difficulty in the wake of their passing. Contact us today for a free consultation if a loved one has undergone a wrongful death. Boston workers’ compensation lawyer John J. Sheehan will work tirelessly to guarantee that you receive the compensation that you deserve.