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Colorado avalanche victim's family may receive death benefits

Many people may consider the job of a ski patrol member as exciting even though it likely poses multiple on-the-job injury hazards. In addition to having to be an excellent skier, patrol members have to cope with the unpredictability of nature on a daily basis. After a tragic accident at a ski resort in Southwestern Colorado on March 4, the owners of the resort have been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Moreover, death benefits are likely due the family of the worker killed in the fatal ski accident. 

On March 4, a helicopter took a team of patrollers for avalanche training to an area that was approximately 15 miles away from the ski resort. They were overwhelmed by an avalanche, and one patrol member died in the incident. OSHA investigations determined that the resort owners disregarded safety regulations by sending the workers into the area without proper evaluation of the potential avalanche risks.

It was further established that there was no means of contacting the base camp or any other communication system to summon emergency services on the day of the accident. These violations led to fines of $14,000 proposed by OSHA. Although the company is contesting the citations, it is cooperating with OSHA in resolving the issue.

Most Colorado workers are covered by the workers' compensation insurance fund. The family of the ski patroller who tragically died in the avalanche are entitled to seek the services of a workers' compensation professional to determine their eligibility to claim benefits from the fund. The death benefits for surviving spouses and dependents usually cover end-of-life expenses, along with a financial compensation package.

Source: chieftain.com, "OSHA cites Wolf Creek", , Sept. 18, 2014

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