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Why Did Colorado Work-Related Fatalities Increase in 2021?

fatality at work on a construction site

While unfortunate, wrongful deaths throughout Colorado have increased throughout 2021 according to recent data collected by state officials and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While workplaces have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their employees and workers, injuries and fatalities can still occur. Workplace wrongful deaths can result from both negligent and accidental workplace injuries. 

In 2021 the state saw a significant jump in fatal workplace injuries. According to the data collected by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, there were 96 fatal occupational deaths in 2021 as opposed to the 78 recorded deaths in 2020, a striking 23.1% increase. 

Workplace fatal injuries can have lasting effects for the employer and especially the family of the decedent. If you have lost a loved one due to a workplace injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your family’s pain and suffering. Understanding your rights and how to move forward following a loved one’s fatal workplace injury is key to recovering the compensation you deserve. 

What Were the Most Common Causes of Work-Related Deaths in Colorado in 2021?

Work related deaths refer to fatalities that occur on the job, and are typically more common in certain industries than others. There are also certain types of fatal injuries a worker might sustain that occur more often than other injuries. 

Common types of injuries that can occur in the workplace setting include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Slip and falls 
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments
  • Contact with objects and equipment that cause fatal injuries
  • Fatal injuries via moving object or falling objects 
  • Malfunction of work related equipment 
  • Electrocution 

What Industries Had the Highest Number of Work-Related Deaths?

Throughout the state of Colorado, deaths in the transportation industry remain to be the leading cause of fatal injuries. The state reports that there were 28 total fatalities in the trade, transportation, and utilities industry. The construction industry fell closely behind with 25 fatal occupational injuries.  

Unsurprisingly, certain industries will unfortunately rank higher with fatal work injuries. In Colorado, the transportation industry remains to be the leading industry for work related deaths. Injuries in this industry include transportation accidents, fatalities while moving materials and slip and falls accidents. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, “transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatalities but down from the prior year by 13.8 percent. Transportation incidents decreased from 29 to 25 in 2021 and continue to lead all fatality events for at least the last 10 years.”

Nationally, the most dangerous industries in 2021 are as follows as outlined by the National Safety Council 

  • Construction – experienced the most workplace deaths
  • Education and health services – experienced the most nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving days away from work
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting – experienced the highest death rate per 100,000 workers
  • Transportation and warehousing – experienced the highest injury and illness rate involving days away from work per 10,000 workers

Can I Sue If My Loved One Passed Away in a Work-Related Accident?

4 men  carrying a coffin at a funeral

In Colorado, surviving loved ones of an individual who passed away in a work related accident can seek compensation through several avenues. These avenues are designed to compensate the deceased’s surviving loved ones and can also serve as a way for these loved ones to seek justice over the wrongful death. Let’s go over two common avenues; workers compensation and wrongful death lawsuits. 

Workers Compensation

Workers compensation is designed to compensate an employee or a worker if they are injured or suffer death at work. Workers compensation can also be awarded to the worker or employees surviving family members. 

If your loved one has died in a work related injury, you may be able to take advantage of workers compensation in order to obtain the financial compensation you deserve. It’s important to understand, however, that workers compensation was designed to help pay out a worker or employee all while protecting the employer. 

In the event workers compensation is paid out, an individual cannot file a lawsuit against the  employer for negligence even if they’re negligence contributed to a dangerous workplace environment. If the employer violated guidelines under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the employer is still protected from lawsuits under workers compensation law. 

Working with a workers compensation attorney can be a helpful way to determine whether you should move forward with a workers comp claim.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed against a company for their negligence if workers compensation is not awarded.  In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff needs to show that the employer was negligent and it was this negligence that led to the wrongful death. 

Plaintiffs also need to show that the decedent’s loved ones suffered harm because of the wrongful death. This can be proven through the loss of income, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and other tangible and intangible losses. There are other elements involved with a wrongful death case. Learn more about the four elements of a wrongful death in order to determine if you have a strong case. 

If workers compensation is not awarded, plaintiffs cannot seek a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. However, they can seek a wrongful death lawsuit against a third party that contributed to the negligence. This third party can include anyone but the employer. Contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers that were negligent, and even other individuals can be targeted in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Speak with a Colorado Lawyer About Your Wrongful Death Case Today

wrongful death attorney in colorado

Navigating the death of a loved one after a fatal workplace injury can be overwhelming, confusing, and even intimidating. At Bachus & Schanker, our team is committed to helping you navigate the process so that you can recover damages you deserve. Trust our legal team and work with a wrongful death attorney in Colorado who is committed to fighting for your rights. 


Cornell Law School Wrongful Deaths (2023) 

CDLE (2022) Colorado Work Related Fatalities Increased in 2021 

National Safety Council (2022)  Most Dangerous Industries

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