A construction worker fell 53 stories, struck a moving car, and died in downtown Los Angeles yesterday, as reported by CNN.  It was only his second day on the job.  Beyond how horrible and tragic such an event must be for the deceased worker’s family and friends, this brings to light the most serious of workers’ compensation claims, and the many layers that go along with it.  A workers’ compensation death case is always potentially extremely valuable to the deceased worker’s dependents and/or succession of heirs, as it should be.  Let’s take a look at the factors of this death case, as well as some factors of Illinois death cases in general.

Regarding this story, a key is the following line:  “Turner Construction, the company at the site, said the man was not doing anything work-related at the time of the incident.”  Furthermore, on another news site, it was reported that he was an electrician, and, “Police and state workplace safety investigators confirmed the incident was ‘not work-related,’ according to Turner Construction Co.  Asked what ‘not work-related’ meant, a spokeswoman for the company told KTLA that she could only say that the man who died was ‘not performing any functions related to his employment or his work’ when he died.”

Turner Construction Co is the general contractor of the site, AC Martin is the architect, and Martin Project Management is the project manager.  Turner made the following statement:  “We have confirmed with CalOSHA and LAPD that the incident which occurred at the Wilshire Grand project site today was not work-related.  After an initial onsite investigation, Cal OSHA has confirmed that no fall-protection violations were observed.”  The article also notes that the CEO of AC Martin and Martin Project Management claimed that, “It was not clear why [the worker] would have been doing electrical work at the edge of the building.”

Here we have an employer that is following the play-by-play of how to protect themselves from costly liability:

  • They have cleared themselves of any possible OSHA fall-protection violations.
  • They have taken the stance that the man was “not performing any functions related to his employment or work” when he died.
  • It has been further implied that there could be no possible reason for a man with his job duties to have been at the edge of the building.

In an Illinois work accident death case, here are factors that could possibly be used to attempt to deny benefits:

  • The act of falling was a suicide.
  • The worker fell as a result of a fight with another person on the site, and, furthermore, the worker was the aggressor in the fight.
  • The worker showed blatant disregard for safety rules and regulations (unless the rules were regularly not followed by most workers at the site.)

Here are factors that could likely NOT be used to deny benefits:

  • The accident happened during a lunch break.
  • The accident happened during a bathroom break.
  • The accident happened during a general break.
  • The worker fell due to the worker’s own fault.
  • The fall was the result of a fight in which the worker was not the aggressor.
  • The accident occurred due to an idiopathic cause.  Idiopathic conditions are those peculiar to the individual; for example, a heart attack, asthma attack, seizure, stroke, or loss of consciousness.  Another example of an idiopathic cause would be a worker who had a bad knee, and the knee lead to him falling to his death.

Workers’ compensation death cases are perhaps the most important type of work injury case where you absolutely must, at the least, consult with an attorney for a free and private consultation.  The dependents or succession of heirs of a deceased injured worker have nothing to lose and everything to gain, including pursuing the maximum compensation available under Illinois law and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

Fatal Work Injuries, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act