On the morning of October 3rd, a construction worker named Gregorio Segundo went to work as usual at West Coast Iron on Jamacha Road. At 10:20am, Mr. Segundo was helping load heavy metal beams onto a trailer bed when three of the beams fell and struck him. The beams were knocked off the trailer by a forklift operated by Mr. Segundo’s co-worker. Mr. Segundo fell to the ground unresponsive and was transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
While extremely tragic, workplace accidents like these aren’t uncommon, especially in construction. According to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 5,190 workers were killed on the job in 2016. That’s more than 99 fatalities per week, on average, or more than 14 deaths every day. Out of all of the workplace deaths in 2016, over 20 percent of them were in construction.
Construction’s “Fatal Four”
The leading causes of worker deaths in construction in 2016 were falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and getting caught in between objects or equipment. These workplace accidents are referred to by OSHA as the “Fatal Four” and were responsible for 63.7 percent of construction worker deaths that year. Unfortunately, Mr. Segundo became a “Fatal Four” statistic when he was struck and killed on the job last month. The cause of death was blunt trauma, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Thousands of forklift accidents occur annually
Just before Mr. Segundo was struck by the I-beams, his co-worker was using a forklift to move and stack the heavy beams onto a trailer bed. As one beam was being placed onto the trailer, it hit the previously stacked beams, causing three of them to fall. This classifies Mr. Segundo’s death as a forklift injury – one of many that has and will occur this year.
According to OSHA, 96,785 forklift injuries happen annually. 34,900 of those accidents cause serious injuries and 85 forklift accidents result in death. 70 percent of forklift accidents could be avoided with proper training and policy. A spokeswoman for the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the agency will investigate the October 3rd incident to see if workplace violations contributed to Mr. Segundo’s death. Regardless of the severity of a forklift injury, or who was at fault, employees can file for workers’ comp to pay for medical expenses, lost income, and death benefits.
Forklift injuries and workers’ comp
As with all workplace accidents, employees who suffer forklift injuries are entitled to workers’ compensation. Upon notifying your employer of your injury, you will be provided with a DWC-1 form. Completing and returning this form to your employer initiates the workers’ comp process.
Your employer must accept, deny, or delay making a decision on your claim within 14 days. If a decision on your claim is delayed, your employer has 90 days to decide whether to accept or deny liability for your forklift injury. During this time, your employer is responsible for paying up to $10,000 of your medical expenses but does not yet have to pay temporary disability benefits.
Once your claim is accepted, all medical expenses related to your injury will be covered by workers’ comp. You will also receive temporary disability benefits to replace a portion of your income while you recover. If you are severely impaired and aren’t expected to recover, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. A forklift injury that results in death entitles a worker’s family to death benefits that cover funeral expenses and loss of financial support.
Were you injured in a workplace accident?
Forklift injuries are extremely common on construction sites and in manufacturing facilities. Thousands of workers are hurt every year due to unsafe operation or poorly maintained equipment. If you were involved in a forklift accident, you have a right to pursue compensation for your injuries. The workers’ comp attorneys at the Law Office of Gerald Brody and Associates can help you get the maximum payout you deserve. Call us today at (619) 528-9800.