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Orange County Fatal Construction Accident


Daniel Varela Jr., 59, of Santa Ana died in a Dana Point construction accident as he fell from the fourth floor of a Marriott hotel where he was working, The Orange County Register reports. The fatal construction accident occurred the morning of April 18, 2009 as Varela was working on the new wing of the hotel at 25135 Park Lantern in Dana Point, Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials said. Varela fell down four stories. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Daniel Varela Jr. I offer them my deepest sympathies for their sudden and tragic loss. Please keep them in your prayers.

According to the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) statistics, there were 84 construction accident related fatalities in California in 2005. A total of 59 people died in California in 2005 in construction and industrial accidents involving falls from a higher elevation.

This newspaper report does not give too many details about how or why this tragic on-the-job accident occurred. Were there scaffolds, guardrails or other safety features installed at this hotel construction site? These safety features are required both by Cal-OSHA and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I hope someone’s negligence did not cost this man his life.

Varela’s family would be entitled to California workers compensation benefits from his employer. However, California workers compensation benefits are meager and hardly cover medical expenses or compensate for a family’s loss of their primary breadwinner. Varela’s family would stand to benefit a lot more from a third party claim. What is a third party claim? It is a claim that is filed against an entity or a person that is someone other than the victim’s employer. If that third party’s negligence caused the accident, then they could be held liable. Third party claims for instance, could be filed against the manufacturer of a defective product or a contractor or sub-contractor.

Daniel Varela’s family would be well-advised to contact Orange County personal injury lawyers who have a strong and successful track record in handling third party claims. Such a third party claim would be worth a lot more to the Varela family than workers compensation benefits. I’d bet the hotel and other contractors involved in this construction project have already put their insurance carriers and attorneys to work on this case in order to protect their interests. Varela’s family needs a skilled personal injury lawyer on their side to fight for their rights and protect their interests.

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