According to the Boston Globe, a worker at the distribution center of a major Boston area supermarket chain was killed in an on-the-job accident. The accident occurred during the early morning hours on the loading dock of the facility, and the worker was 51-years-old at the time of his death.
Authorities say he was working on the loading dock when the tractor-trailer on which he was standing started to move away from the loading dock without warning. The worker ended up falling between the newly created gap between the loading dock and where the truck once was. Not only did he fall down to the ground, a full size forklift that was also on the loading dock fell off and landed on the worker, killing him instantly. Those around immediately called 911, but there was nothing paramedics could do for the man. Firefighters were able to recover the worker’s body, so he could officially be pronounced dead and then be transported to the Office of the State Medical Examiner, so a full autopsy could be performed. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) quickly arrived on the scene of the deadly workplace accident to conduct a full investigation. It should be noted that this does not mean there were any workplace safety violations, as this is part of OSHA’s routine procedures. If OSHA discovers that there were any safety violations, they will issue a violation report and can assess any fines the agency deems necessary. The employer will have an opportunity to appeal any negative findings. It should also be noted that there have been no allegations that the truck driver was negligent.
One thing to keep in mind, as our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, even in cases where the workplace accident results in a death as opposed to an injury, the appropriate remedy is still to a file a workers’ compensation claim with the decedent’s employer. It will likely be the deceased worker’s surviving spouse or other next of kin who will be filing the claim on behalf of the late worker’s probate estate. While this can be a complicated process, your attorney can assist with you opening a probate estate and making a claim for a workers’ compensation death benefits award.
While workers’ compensation is typically the only remedy for an injured worker, or even a deceased worker, it is possible that the injured worker could file a civil personal injury as well, if that injury was caused by a negligent third party. In the case of a loading dock injury, if the truck driver was negligent, and that truck driver did not work for the same company, it might be possible to file a civil case against the truck driver and also collect worker’s compensation benefits from the employer. However, the injured employee would have to reimburse the worker’s compensation insurance company for any benefits paid, since our legal system disfavors what is known as a double recovery.
If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Stop & Shop worker killed in accident at Freetown distribution center, Jan. 27, 2017, By Travis Andersen, Boston Globe
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OSHA’s New Injury Reporting Rule and Employee Drug Testing, July 14, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog