$71 Million Wrongful Death Victory for Texas Family

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Catastrophic Injury, Manufacturing Injuries, Workplace Accident, Workplace Injuries, Workplace Safety, Wrongful Death

Workplace wrongful deaths are a tragic and sobering reality in Texas, a state known for its robust industries and diverse economic landscape. Each year, countless families must grieve after a loved one loses their life on the job due to negligence, unsafe conditions, or inadequate training. These heartbreaking incidents not only leave emotional scars but also raise pressing questions about safety standards, employer responsibility, and legal recourse.

In the article below, the wrongful death attorneys at Kherkher Garcia provide one example of how families can achieve justice and compensation after losing a loved one. Furthermore, we will explore the complexities surrounding workplace wrongful deaths in Texas. By providing a real-life example, we aim to shed light on this critical issue and advocate for safer work environments that prioritize the wellbeing of every worker.

Wrongful Death Victory for Victim’s Family

A Texas jury awarded $71.95 million to the widow of an electrician who died in a workplace accident at a Frito-Lay warehouse in 2019. The victim was working on an elevated scissor lift that collapsed after being hit by a boom lift operated by an allegedly unqualified employee. The victim’s widow sued Walker Engineering Inc., accusing them of negligence. Walker Engineering claimed the boom lift operator worked for a separate entity, Walker Industrial LLC, and blamed the victim for the accident. However, the jury found Walker Engineering 65% liable and Walker Industrial 35% liable, making Walker Engineering responsible for the full amount under Texas law.

The plaintiffs attorney highlighted the jury’s agreement on the lack of training for the boom lift operator and the victim’s non-liability. Despite the defense’s highest settlement offer of $1.25 million, the jury’s award significantly exceeded this amount. Plaintiff’s counsel also noted the challenge of distinguishing between Walker Engineering and Walker Industrial but emphasized that the verdict holds Walker Engineering accountable, potentially leading to better safety training and corporate responsibility.

The attorney for the victim’s family credited pre-trial focus group work and jury consultants for their role in securing the verdict. The trial saw representation from multiple law firms on both sides, with the plaintiffs’ team expressing satisfaction and hope for future safety improvements.

What are the Hazards of Operating or Working Near Scissor Lifts?

A scissor lift is a type of aerial work platform used to provide temporary access to elevated areas, typically for construction, maintenance, and industrial tasks. It gets its name from the crisscrossing metal supports that resemble a pair of scissors, which extend and retract to raise and lower the platform. Operating or working near scissor lifts involves several hazards that can pose significant risks to safety. Key hazards include:

  • Tip-Over Risks: Exceeding the weight capacity can destabilize the lift. Operating on slopes or uneven surfaces also increases the risk of tipping over. Using a scissor lift in strong winds can cause it to become unstable, which increases the risk of tipping over or other incidents.
  • Collisions: Hitting overhead obstacles or structures can cause the lift to tip or collapse. Collisions with other machinery or vehicles, as seen in the case above, can lead to severe accidents.
  • Falls: Missing or damaged guardrails can result in falls from height. Leaning over the guardrails or using the lift improperly also increases fall risk.
  • Electrical Hazards: Contact with live electrical wires can cause electrocution. Malfunctioning lift electrical components also pose shock risks.
  • Mechanical Failures: A breakdown in the hydraulic system can cause sudden and unexpected drops. This is hazardous to operators and those nearby. Additionally, faulty components can lead to operational failure in many ways.
  • Entrapment/Crushing: Workers can get caught between the lift’s moving parts. Workers can also be crushed between the platform and overhead structures.
  • Improper Training and Operation: Lack of proper training can lead to mishandling and accidents. Failure to follow safety protocols and manufacturer instructions increases risk.

To mitigate these hazards, proper training, regular equipment inspections, adherence to safety protocols, and maintaining a clear, safe working environment around the lift are crucial.

What are Common Injuries Resulting from Scissor Lift Incidents?

Injuries from scissor lift accidents can be severe and sometimes fatal, due to the height and mechanical nature of the equipment. Common injuries include:

Fall-Related Injuries:

  • Fractures: Broken bones, especially in the arms, legs, and ribs, from falls or being thrown off the lift.
  • Head Injuries: Concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and skull fractures.
  • Spinal Injuries: Damage to the spine, which can result in partial or complete paralysis.

Crushing and Entrapment Injuries:

  • Amputations: Loss of limbs or digits from getting caught in the lift’s moving parts.
  • Internal Injuries: Damage to internal organs from being crushed between the lift and other objects.
  • Muscle and Tissue Damage: Severe bruising and muscle injuries from compression.


  • Burns: Severe electrical burns from contact with power lines or faulty wiring.
  • Cardiac Arrest: Heart failure due to electric shock.
  • Neurological Damage: Nerve damage resulting from electric shock.

Impact Injuries:

  • Blunt Force Trauma: Injuries from being struck by the lift or objects falling from the lift.
  • Lacerations: Deep cuts and gashes from sharp edges or falling debris.

Overexertion and Strain Injuries:

  • Muscle Strains: Overexertion from improper use or positioning on the lift.
  • Joint Injuries: Sprains and dislocations from sudden movements or falls.

Respiratory Issues:

  • Dust Inhalation: Breathing in dust or hazardous materials stirred up by the lift.
  • Chemical Exposure: Inhaling fumes from nearby construction or industrial activities.

Psychological Trauma:

  • PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing or experiencing a serious accident.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Mental health issues following a traumatic injury or accident.

Preventing these injuries requires strict adherence to safety protocols, proper training for operators and regular equipment maintenance. Additionally, it requires ensuring a safe working environment around the lift. Unfortunately, even the most conscientious scissor lift operators can fall victim to the negligence and inadequate training of others. As in the case above, other workers operating machinery nearby can cause incidents that result in life-altering, even fatal injuries.

What are a Family’s Rights in Texas if a Loved One is Killed at Work?

In Texas, families of workers who are killed on the job have several rights and potential avenues for seeking compensation and justice. These rights depend on various factors, including whether the employer subscribed to the state’s workers’ compensation system and the specifics of the incident. Here are key rights and options available:

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

  • Death Benefits: If the employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the family (typically the spouse, children, or other dependents) is entitled to death benefits. These benefits can cover a portion of the deceased worker’s wages and may include compensation for funeral expenses.
  • Burial Expenses: Workers’ compensation typically provides a fixed amount to cover burial and funeral expenses.

Survivor Benefits

  • Income Replacement: Spouses and dependent children may receive income replacement benefits based on the deceased worker’s earnings.
  • Lump-Sum Payments: In some cases, beneficiaries may receive a lump-sum payment in addition to ongoing benefits.

Third-Party Claims

If a third party (someone other than the employer or a co-worker) is found to be responsible for the death, the family may file a wrongful death lawsuit against that party. For example, if defective equipment caused the accident, the manufacturer could be held liable.

Non-Subscriber Employers

If the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance (non-subscriber), the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. Texas law allows for more extensive damages in these cases, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.

Gross Negligence Claims

Even if the employer subscribes to workers’ compensation, the family may be able to file a lawsuit for gross negligence. This requires proving that the employer’s conduct was more than just ordinary negligence and involved a willful or reckless disregard for safety.

Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

  • Wrongful Death Act: This allows the deceased worker’s spouse, children, and parents to seek compensation for the financial and emotional impact of the death.
  • Survival Act: This allows the estate of the deceased to pursue claims that the worker could have brought if they had survived, such as pain and suffering endured before death.

OSHA and Regulatory Complaints

Families can file complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if they believe workplace safety regulations were violated. While OSHA fines do not go to the family, findings can support other legal claims.

How to Get Help after a Wrongful Death

After losing a loved one in a tragic workplace incident, engaging an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of Texas law, maximize compensation, and ensure all legal rights are protected. Understanding your rights helps ensure that you get the justice and compensation you deserve following a tragic workplace death.

If you need help sorting through your legal rights and options after losing a loved one, contact Kherkher Garcia today. For more than 30 years, our team has provided legal guidance, support, and advocacy for victims of negligence. We have taken on large corporations and obtained multi-million dollar results for our clients.

Find out how we can help you by contacting us for a free consultation. Call us at 713-333-1030, or complete our confidential contact form. When you contact Kherkher Garcia, you will be met with compassion, support, and dedication to your rights and wellbeing.

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Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

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