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Driver Crushed by Forklift in the Port of Long Beach

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A group of family members and friends held a vigil for Pablo Antonio Garcia, a Long Beach worker and truck driver who was crushed to death January 28, 2009 when a forklift hit his truck in the Port of Long Beach. According to this news report in the Daily Breeze, they held the vigil to demand better working conditions for harbor area drivers. The group urged lawmakers to adopt comprehensive reforms, saying drivers are routinely exposed to life-threatening hazards such as collapsing cranes, wayward forklifts, substandard trucks and heavy pollution.

Investigators say Garcia was killed when he was standing outside his truck and waiting for the delivery of a steel container from another area inside the terminal. Garcia was apparently pinned between two truck chassis when a forklift driver struck his rig. He suffered severe internal injuries and died shortly after the tragic incident. The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating this Long Beach on-the-job accident. Long Beach police expect to file charges in connection with this case. Several days before Garcia’s death, another driver, Felipe Curiel, was nearly killed when a container fell on the cab of his truck. He had to be extricated from his crushed rig with the Jaws of Life. Garcia leaves behind a wife and three children.

These types of Long Beach work-related accidents are extremely tragic because in many cases, the deceased person is his family’s only source of income. I offer my deepest sympathies to everybody who knew and loved Pablo Antonio Garcia.

In this case, although Garcia is an employee and would be covered by California Workers Compensation benefits, I would strongly suggest that his family retain the services of a Long Beach workers compensation attorney who is experienced with filing “third-party claims.” These are claims that may be filed against negligent parties other than the worker’s employer. It could, for example, be the manufacturer of a defective product that caused an injury or death or it could be another contractor or sub contractor. California workers compensation benefits are often woefully inadequate to cover medical/funeral expenses and loss of wages, let alone the loss of a beloved family member. A third-party claim in these cases could be worth a lot more to families of deceased or personally injured Southern California workers.

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