James Allen Deshon II, 30, of Hesperia, died on Sept. 23 after he was crushed by a truck’s hopper in Apple Valley. According to this news report, Deshon was attempting to repair a street sweeper at Wood Brothers Trucking on Pala Lane when the accident happened. He had climbed into the sweeper to carry out the repairs when the raised tilt hopper fell on top of him, crushing and suffocating him to death.
Investigators from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal-OSHA) will hopefully try and determine what caused this fatal on-the-job accident. The family of James Allen Deshon II will no doubt receive workers’ compensation benefits through his employer. However, workers’ compensation benefits in California are woefully inadequate to meaningfully compensate a family for the loss of their loved one.
If I were representing Deshon’s family, I would certainly look into whether there is a “third party claim” here. It is basically a claim against someone other than an employer (or co-worker) who can be held responsible for the accident and injuries/death. Such a claim could also be filed against an employer if the employer does not have the injured employee properly covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Deshon’s family should certainly consult with a Southern California attorney skilled in third party accident claims, which could be worth 20 times more to them than the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to. Companies and employers are quick to contact their lawyers and insurance companies so they can protect their interests and minimize their liability. Victims’ families need their rights and their interests protected too.
A skilled personal injury lawyer will also want to prevent any evidence from being manipulated or changed in order to protect someone from having to take responsibility for this worker’s death. I’d strongly recommend the street sweeper be secured and preserved in its damaged condition so it can be used as evidence.