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California employer did not have workers' compensation insurance

The investigation into the tragic death of a California construction worker has led to a discovery of another kind. Apparently, the company that employed the man was not carrying the required workers' compensation insurance. This omission may bring many negative consequences for the construction company as well as the family of the deceased worker.

Cal Fire frequently contracts local construction companies to fight fires using heavy equipment. During the recent fires, the 35-year-old earth mover operator was called on to clear brush and debris from a fire line. As he moved the bulldozer down a steep embankment, the machine slid down the slope and tipped onto its side. The driver was ejected and pinned under the bulldozer where he died instantly. Investigators believe he was not wearing a safety belt and had not closed the door to the machine's cab.

As Cal Fire investigators studied the accident, they learned that the man's construction company had told the Contractors State License Board that it had no employees, which exempted it from carrying workers' compensation insurance. Without workers' compensation insurance, the man's family may have additional challenges in collecting benefits due because of his death. Investigators also found that the operating license of the company had been suspended eight times in the past four years for various violations.

When an employee dies in a work-related accident, workers' compensation is meant to provide death benefits to the family for burial costs and support for dependents. In California, all employers are required to carry insurance for their workers. The family of the man who died in this accident is fully entitled to contact a lawyer to see what recourse they have. An attorney experienced in workers' compensation law will be able to answer their questions and guide them in seeking the compensation they deserve.

Source: kqed.org, "Cal Fire Probe Details Death of Dozer Driver in Big Sur Blaze", Ted Goldberg, Aug. 5, 2016

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