Jose Ayala, 47, of Simi Valley died in an on-the-job accident on October 16, 2008 after he fell into an industrial die-casting machine. Ayala worked at Vista Lighting Co., a Simi Valley firm that manufactures outdoor lights. Our source for this blog is this news report in the Ventura County Star.
Ayala suffered severe head injuries and was in full cardiac arrest when he was removed from the machine. Firefighters attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful. Ayala was pronounced dead at the scene. The fatal Simi Valley on-the-job accident is being investigated by the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL-OSHA).
My heart goes out to the members of Jose Ayala’s family, who have suffered a tragic loss. In many of these cases, the deceased person is also often the family’s breadwinner.
According to Cal-OSHA’s 2005 statistics, a total of 453 people were killed in industrial accidents. Out of these fatalities, 59 deaths could be attributed to falls and 25 were caused by workers getting trapped in machinery.
Jose Ayala’s family will no doubt receive workers’ compensation benefits through his employer, Vista Lighting Company. However, workers’ compensation benefits in California are extremely inadequate to compensate a family for the loss of their main breadwinner. If I were representing Ayala’s family I would look into whether there is a “third party claim” here. A “third party claim” is a claim against someone other than an employer who can be held responsible for the accident, injuries and death. A third party claim may also be filed against an employer if the employer does not have the injured employee properly covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Ayala’s family should certainly consult with a Southern California attorney skilled in third party accident claims. Such a claim could be worth a lot more to the family than the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to. I’d bet Ayala’s employer already has their attorneys and insurance company working on this case to make sure their interests are protected and their liability is minimized. Ayala’s family needs an experienced personal injury lawyer on their side to protect their legal rights.