California victims of work-related injuries are typically entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The same applies to the surviving family members of employees who suffered fatal on-the-job injuries. However, the state-regulated insurance program typically pays benefits that are limited to medical expenses or end-of-life costs along with a portion of lost wages. Third-party cases could be filed if the injury or death resulted from the negligence of third parties not linked to the same employer. In those circumstances additional financial relief might be obtained through the civil justice system.
Depending on the factors that led to the death of a Southern California employee at the John Wayne Airport, a third-party lawsuit might be viable. A spokesperson for the airport reports that the incident occurred in one of the workshops on a recent Tuesday. It happened while two workers were busy working on a tire on one of the company's jet bridges.
Jet bridges are movable structures used as connections between airline doors and terminals. The two workers were doing maintenance when one of the large tires exploded. The explosion set off a fire alarm, and although rescue crews rushed to the scene, they were too late to save the life of one worker. The other one escaped serious injuries. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will investigate the incident to determine the cause of the explosion.
In a case such as this one, the surviving family members of the deceased worker can go ahead and file a workers' compensation claim for survivor's benefits. However, the potential for third-party cases should not be disregarded. An attorney with experience in both workers' compensation and personal injury claims could assess the viability of a civil lawsuit to be filed in addition to the insurance benefits claim. Proof of negligence by the tire manufacturer, the person who fitted the tire, or any other party (other than a co-worker) that worked on it might lead to additional compensation for financial and emotional damages.