SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – 23-year-old Joel Vallejo Servin was killed on Thursday evening at work when a grappling machine used to pare logs caught him causing him to suffer severe crush injuries that proved fatal. Despite being transported to a nearby hospital, he succumbed to his injuries. The incident happened at his place of employment located on Heritage Road in San Diego, California, and the specifics of how the incident occurred is currently being investigated by Cal-OSHA. Joel Vallejo Selvin is survived by his wife.
The events of this incident spark a host of issues regarding not only the cause of the incident, but the compensation his widow may be entitled to recover. From a legal context, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim that his wife rightfully possesses for the loss of her husband, she may also, under certain circumstances, posses a separate rightful civil action based upon products liability against the manufacturer of the machinery. She may also possess a rightful civil claim against the employer if the machinery was not properly equipped with sufficient manufacturer assembled safety features.
Depending on the investigative findings of how the incident occurred, the machine may prove to be defective in its design, manufacture or for failing to contain sufficient warnings advising its users of how to properly and safely use the machinery, or of the dangers associated with use of the machinery. Under such circumstances, his wife would posses duel claims, one upon the workers’ compensation arena where she would not have to prove fault, and a separate civil claim against the manufacturer, distributors and sellers of the machinery where fault would have to be established. If a rightful civil claim could be established, the potential damages for wrongful death would be much more extensive because such damages are not capped under California law as they are under the workers’ compensation system.
Having handled a wide array of work related accidents and product liability cases, the attorney at Berman & Riedel, LLP, understand the nuances involved in pursing claims against “third parties” when a work accident occurs, as well as against employers who detach manufacturer installed safety equipment to promote increased production speed. Third-party liability is established when someone other than the employer has fault for causing the injury or death related incident, be it a person, manufacturer or other contracting firms such as in the circumstances of a work site accident. As per civil claims against an employer, there are legal statutory exceptions that take an incident outside of the exclusive remedy of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
It is an unfortunate reality that injured workers oftentimes do not receive the full compensation they are entitled to under California law, especially when they are unrepresented by legal counsel in handling their claim. Pursuing a workers’ compensation claim under certain circumstances may not be the only remedy available for a worker who gets hurt while “on the job.” Indeed, there are “exceptions” where the injured worker may have other more viable avenues for recovery, such as: (1) third-party claims that fall outside of the workers’ compensation system, or (2) exceptions to the workers’ compensation regime provided in statutes such as where a worker gets seriously injured while using a punch-press at work because the employer took a safety guard off to speed up productivity. Each of these exceptions ways around the strict limits that are imposed under California’s workers’ compensation system.
It is extremely important to know and understand all of the potential claims you may posses if you or a loved one are injured while on the job. For more a detailed explanation of the exceptions that apply, you can read the article How to Avoid Workers’ Compensation Limits in Construction Site and Workplace Accidents written by Berman & Riedel, LLP, attorney William M. Beman, or you can contact an attorney with the firm Berman & Riedel, LLP, by calling (858)350-8855. Initial personal injury case consultations are always free of charge.