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San Bernardino County Fatal Industrial Accident


Humberto Diaz-Guzman, 34, died in a Fontana on-the-job injury accident, according to news reports and the San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office. Diaz-Guzman died the night of April 13, 2009 of injuries he suffered in an April 6, 2009 workplace accident. He was apparently struck in the head with a piece of metal that flew off a tire balancing machine. The Fontana Sheriff’s Department and the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL-OSHA) are investigating this incident.

I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of Humberto Diaz-Guzman for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your prayers.

According to Cal-OSHA’s 2005 on-the-job fatality accident statistics, 48 workers in California died that year after being struck by a flying object. Totally, 453 California workers died on the job in the year 2005, Cal-OSHA reports.

In this particular case, it is not quite clear what caused the piece of metal to fly off the machinery. As always in such cases, there are many questions. Was Diaz-Guzman properly trained by his employer to handle this machine? Was the machine in some way defective, which caused the metal to come off it? Did someone else’s negligence (contractor used for maintaining the machinery or another worker/contractor) cause the accident? The answers to these questions will help determine what exactly happened and who should be held responsible for it.

It is very likely Humberto Diaz-Guzman’s family will receive workers compensation benefits. However, California workers compensation benefits are too low and too inadequate to cover such a tremendous loss or of a family that loses its primary breadwinner. It would be important to find out if there exists a “third party” claim here – one that could be more helpful to Diaz-Guzman’s family. A third party claim is a claim against someone other than an employer such as the manufacturer of a defective product or a contractor or sub-contractor whose negligence may have caused or contributed to the workplace accident.

For this reason, Diaz-Guzman’s family needs to consult with California personal injury attorneys skilled in third party claims, who know how to maximize the net compensation to this family by minimizing the workers compensation insurance carrier’s claim.

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