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Investigation in worker's death runs into dead end

When a loved one dies in a terrible accident, family members may be at a loss as to what to do next. Many people may be overwhelmed at the cost of a funeral and dealing with the accident victim's debts. If that family member was the primary earner, the thought of moving forward without his or her income is as frightening as the person's death is tragic. For these family members, it is often important to contact a lawyer to sign up for workers' compensation death benefits.

In this story, a man was crushed to death as he worked as a sanitation worker, leaving behind his dependent wife, children and grandchildren. While the accident happened a year ago, the city that employed him has not made any progress into the cause of his death. City officials believe that the previous owner of the truck in which the father was crushed was responsible for uninstalling two safety systems that could have prevented the horrific accident.

The accident happened as the man was trying to clear a blocked trash truck and climbed into the back of vehicle. Before he got anywhere near the compactor, he had pressed a button that would have engaged the two safety systems on a properly working vehicle. Unfortunately, someone had rewired the truck, preventing the safety systems from working.

Investigators tried to determine who was responsible for rewiring the truck, but they have announced there is no way of knowing who was responsible. While the city believes the previous owner was responsible, it appears that the city failed to investigate the truck's safety systems before employees started driving them.

Because an employer should provide a safe work environment, a fatal workplace accident calls into question whether the employer has fulfilled its responsibilities. Although investigators do not know who is responsible for rewiring the truck, it would be reasonable to assume that the employer would have tested the vehicles before putting them into service.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Year later, few answers in Norfolk trash-truck death," Harry Minium, Feb. 3, 2012

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