Jason, James Mohelski, 32, of Victorville died in an industrial accident in Riverside on Aug. 19 after he was crushed between a tire and the cab of a fire truck he was inspecting, the Riverside Press Enterprise reports. Mohelski was reportedly working on the truck at Johnson Power Systems in Riverside when he got crushed and suffered the fatal injuries.
Cal-OSHA, the state’s occupational safety and health agency, is investigating this on-the-job fatality. My heart goes out to Mohelski’s family. I offer my condolences to them.
According to the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), every employer in California is required under the state’s Labor Code to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all employees. Title 8 (T8), of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), requires every California employer to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program in writing that must be in accord with T8 CCR Section 3203 of the General Industry Safety Orders.
If I were a personal injury lawyer representing this family, I’d be looking into what caused this fatal workplace accident, if there was any malfunction or defect in the equipment that Mohelski was working with. The victim’s family in this case is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits through Mohelski’s employer, Johnson Power Systems. However, workers’ compensation benefits in California are extremely inadequate to compensate a family for the loss of income from the primary breadwinner, let alone the loss of a spouse or a parent.
There could also be a “third party claim” here. A “third party” claim is a claim against someone other than the employer (or co-employee) or against the employer if the employer does not have the injured employee properly covered by workers’ compensation insurance. To the Mohelski family, such a “third party” claim may be worth 20 times more than the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to receive.
The family should certainly consult with a California personal injury attorney skilled in third party industrial accident claims who knows how to maximize the net compensation to the victim’s family by minimizing the workers’ compensation insurance carrier’s claim.