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Personal injury: Fatal workplace injury leads to civil lawsuit

Workplace injuries are typically covered by the California workers' compensation insurance system, which is a no-fault program. This means that, even if it was the worker's fault, he or she could file a workers' compensation benefits claim. However, if the gross negligence of an employer causes a severe injury or a worker's death, there might also be grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in a civil court.

One such case was recently filed in another state. After losing her husband in a construction site accident, the surviving wife filed a lawsuit against the employer. A front-end loader struck her husband while the driver was backing up. The worker died from crushing injuries. The employer challenges the claim, saying that a claim should be filed with workers' compensation instead.

The deceased worker's wife claims gross negligence because safety in the work area was not monitored, nor was it supervised. Also, it is claimed that training was inadequate and that workers were not warned of potential dangers. The wrongful death lawsuit further claims that the employer violated the safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The same applies to California. If an employer is deemed grossly negligent in the cause of serious or fatal workplace injuries, an attorney with experience in both personal injury and workers' compensation can assess and explain the legal options. Damage recovery in a successful civil lawsuit can yield significantly more financial relief than workers' compensation benefits. Along with financial losses, emotional damages like pain and suffering can also form a part of the documented claims in a civil lawsuit.

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