A Missouri woman who was rescued from an explosion in a fireworks plant on the evening of July 3 has reportedly died a week later in a Springfield hospital. The 28-year-old employee of AM Pyrotechnics was at work preparing for July 4th fireworks shows when there was an explosion that destroyed the building. Ten fire departments with about 84 firefighters responded to the explosion. They were able to rescue the woman, but she had severe fourth-degree burns over 60 percent of her body, according to family reports on the decedent’s Facebook page. Because she was at work, her family will receive all workers’ compensation benefits payable.
When a worker is injured while performing the duties of employment, workers’ compensation benefits are payable in the form of all medical expenses and statutory lost wages benefits, regardless of who was at fault. The injured worker will receive lost wages payments up until the date that the treating physician releases the person back to work. Where the employee dies from the work-related accident, all medical expenses, funeral and burial bills are paid, along with lost wages benefits, to immediate surviving family members.
In this case, the family may consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine whether any tort damages may be collected from third parties not related to the employer. Also, where the employer has recklessly exposed the worker to unreasonably dangerous conditions at work, there is a possibility that the employer could be found liable for additional compensation. Such recoveries are rare based on the longstanding pact between employers and employees to have all matters handled exclusively according to the workers’ compensation laws.
Where third parties who are not the employer are negligent in causing the accident, the decedent’s family could possibly prevail on a wrongful death claim for damages against the third party, pursuant to Missouri law. Such a claim could include compensation over and above what is available through workers’ compensation, including pain and suffering prior to death. The explosion is under investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The decedent had an 8-month-old son who was not with her at the time.