Work Accident Claims Life Of Woman Pulled Into Mixing Vat

William J. Kropach

Work accidents in California and elsewhere that involve industrial-type machines can be freakish and nightmarish in some circumstances. In addition, the setting does not always have to be in a large industrial manufacturing plant. One ghoulish work accident recently happened in a bakery outlet of a grocery store when a 45-year-old woman was pulled into a mixing vat and killed by the blades before a co-worker could turn off the machine.

Apparently, the woman’s clothing may have gotten entangled in moving parts of the machine, pulling her into the vat. The employing company stated that it had closed the bakery temporarily to determine the cause, and that the company would be initiating additional safety training procedures to its workers. The local police indicated that loose clothing may have been a factor.

Where there is a death on the job, the worker’s immediate surviving family is generally entitled to collect lost wages benefits that the worker would have received. This may consist of permanent bi-weekly or monthly payments or they may be limited to a set number of years. Under some state procedures, it may be possible in some cases for the family to obtain a lump sum settlement of the wage benefits through negotiations with the employer’s insurance carrier.

Death benefits for a work accident under workers’ compensation laws also include payment of all medical expenses and funeral and burial costs. The benefits, however, can be inadequate due to lack of coverage for pain and suffering and to some extent, lost earning capacity. In this case, the woman was heard screaming as she was crushed by the machine. That element of additional damages would be covered in a claim against any negligent parties other than the employer. For example, if the machine was engineered defectively or if necessary warnings were not placed on the machine, a separate claim for product liability could be pursued under California law.

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