Workers' compensation: Garbage truck equipment crushes driver

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will investigate an incident that caused the death of a waste collection truck operator. The wife of the deceased worker says her husband reported a malfunctioning hydraulic mechanism on the truck several times, but nothing was done about it. If this proves to be the case, she might have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer, along with a workers' compensation claim.

Reportedly, the truck operator was crushed against the truck's body by the mechanical arm that dumps the trash into the hopper. The video surveillance camera of a nearby home recorded the incident shortly after 3:30 p.m. on a recent Monday. A passerby who suspected that something was wrong called 911 almost an hour later and deputies arrived in response at 4:26 p.m.

Sadly, it was not in time to save the man's life. According to his employer, there was a trash can stuck in the hopper, which could indicate that the truck operator tried to retrieve it when the mechanical arm struck him. However, the deceased worker's wife says her husband made multiple reports to his employer about the arm dropping trash cans. Furthermore, the homeowner whose cameras recorded the incident says the worker also mentioned the malfunctioning mechanical arm to him a couple of months ago.

An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assess the viability of a civil lawsuit based on gross negligence. Legal counsel can explain how the surviving spouse can potentially pursue both avenues to recover damages. Along with the workers' compensation death benefits to cover a funeral and burial, and a wage-replacement package, additional financial and emotional damages might be recoverable through the California civil justice system.

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