Workplace injuries are, unfortunately, all too common. Work site fatalities are less common, but even one is one too many!. And when death-at-the-workplace happens to YOUR father, husband, wife or mother, it changes your life forever. That’s why our hearts go out to the family of the Herkimer County man who was killed today in Lincoln, New York at the Madison County landfill. The box of his dump truck had become stuck while he was dumping trash into the landfill. He was trying to dislodge the box when it fell off the truck and crushed him. Co-workers had to use a backhoe to lift the box off him.
As a Syracuse New York work place accident lawyer, I can’t read a story like this without wondering whose fault it was. Who is responsible? Usually accidents don’t just “happen”. Rather,my experience with work site accidents teaches me that almost always someone failed to follow safety rules.
This unfortunate worker was employed by Feher, a waste disposal company that operates in Syracuse, Utica, Watertown and Geneva. Feher has a less-than-perfect safety record. In 2007 a Feher truck ran over a Feher employee while he was collecting trash in Pompey. In 2009, a pedestrian was trapped under the wheel of a Feher truck.
I’m not saying Feher was at fault — just that it has some suspicious blemishes in its safety record. When a company has a troublesome safety record, it usually means they are cutting corners and skirting safety rules. In this case, the truck box might have been improperly maintained, inspected, constructed or installed.
This diseased worker’s family has an absolute right to worker’s compensation benefits, of course. But the compensation will be minimal when weighed against the loss. And even if the employer was negligent in the maintenance of the truck, and this caused his death, the worker’s family will be barred from suing the employer by Workers’ Compensation Law. Nothing bars them, however, from bringing a claim against other parties who might be responsible for this accident. Perhaps an outside company was responsible for maintenance of Feher’s trucks, in which case this deceased worker’s family might have a worksite accident case against them.
OSHA will certainly be investigating this incident and may write “citations” that point an accusatory finger toward a culpable party. A competent workplace accident lawyer would know how to supplement OSHA’s investigation to unearth other evidence of fault.