Worker Crushed to Death at Glass Company

A temporary worker employed at a Santa Rosa glass company was killed recently when seven 100-pound sheets of glass fell on him. The worker was moving the glass on a rack to a dumpster to be discarded. While the exact details of the accident are still under investigation, it appears that the glass was not tethered to the rack or secured in any way when it tipped over.

The man was employed by an agency that sends workers to various companies on a temporary basis. This raises the question whether he had been properly trained to do the job to which he was assigned that day. The Sonoma County coroner and the State Division of Occupational Safety and Health are investigating.

Depending on the circumstances, the man’s family or next of kin might be able to collect damages for his death, either under California’s workers compensation insurance plan or under the state’s wrongful death statute. Workers’ comp benefits generally result in a lower recovery than the family would be able to get if a jury found negligence in a regular wrongful death case. That is because some kinds of damages, such as pain and suffering, are not recoverable in a workers comp case, and the formula that calculates the amount of lost wages to be paid is different than the one a jury would use.

However, if the man was partly responsible for his own injuries — for example, if he did not load the glass onto the cart properly or failed to secure it — then that would reduce his recovery in a jury trial. Because workers comp is a no-fault system, his family would receive benefits without having to prove that he was blameless in the accident that took his life.

If you or a loved one have been injured at work, you should speak to an experienced attorney immediately. You may think that your accident was your fault, when in theory the blame may lie with your employer for not training and supervising you properly, or with the building owner if safety hazards on their property contributed to your injury. Even if you were at fault in the accident, you may still be entitled to workers compensation benefits.

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