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Wrongful On-The-Job Death of Texas Man

On February 21, a man was killed while working at a drilling rig owned by contractor Helmrich & Payne. Ronnie Lynn May, 44, from Seguin, Texas had been working at the rig in Midland County for four years according to his mother, Mamie May. He left behind a ten-year-old son, Seth, who chose his father’s casket and helped plan the funeral.

May and a coworker, Mariano Pruneda, had been moving a piece of pipe when it fell on top of Pruneda. May was reportedly crushed by another piece of pipe while trying to help Pruneda, who was pinned. Both were taken to Midland Memorial Hospital where May was pronounced dead due to his crush injuries that afternoon and Pruneda’s injuries were announced as non-life threatening.

A Helmrich & Payne spokesperson commented that the accident is under investigation by the company. A representative from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arrived at the drilling rig the day of the accident to begin an investigation on behalf of the Labor Department.

Possible Legal Claims Available to the Victim’s Family

When a worker is fatally injured on the job, both civil and criminal lawsuits can be filed against the responsible party. The investigation by the Labor Department acts as the criminal case in this situation, and May’s family may file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the drilling company if they wish to seek compensation for their loss.

This type of suit carries a higher burden of proof than that is required for criminal cases. A valid claim must prove causation and liability concerning the defendant. The plaintiff, in this situation the deceased worker’s family, will have to prove that the company had a duty to take certain safety measures to protect workers, that this duty was breached and the breach caused Mr. May’s injuries and ultimately his death.

If the family files a wrongful death suit and proves the claim, they may be entitled to receive compensation for loss of their loved one’s past and future wages, the deceased’s pain and suffering, their mental anguish and loss of companionship. If you have recently lost a loved one and are thinking about filing a wrongful death suit, contact an experienced attorney to help guide you through the complex process.