Workers' compensation: Tree log crushes public works employee

Last year's Butte County fire was one of the deadliest fires in California history. Although the final flames have long been extinguished, it continues to claim lives. A 57-year-old worker died while clearing dried brush and debris left behind by the devastating fire. His family will likely be one of many who have relied upon the California workers' compensation system to provide financial assistance after a loved one's work-related death.

According to a spokesperson for Calaveras County Sheriff's Office, the worker was a member of a public works road maintenance crew that was doing routine brush clearing in a rural area. Reportedly, the man was operating a chipper on a hillside when a massive log came rolling down the incline and struck him. The trunk is believed to be a remnant of the fire. First responders from multiple agencies rushed to the scene, but despite their best efforts, they could not save the man's life.

The county coroner reported that the weight of the rolling tree caused crushing injuries that caused his death within minutes. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health along with the Sheriff's Office and CAL Fire are all involved in investigating the incident to determine the circumstances that led to the worker's death. They will likely also work to determine the cause of the massive log's dislodging that allowed it to roll down the hill.

Whenever workplace accidents claim the lives of California employees, the surviving family members of the deceased workers may be eligible for death benefits through the state-regulated workers' compensation program. Legal counsel is available to assist with the benefits claims process in pursuit of the timely award of all applicable benefits. End-of-life expenses and lost wages typically form part of the compensation.

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