Dallas, TX — A fatal work accident that involved a forklift at the Nationwide Plastics plant in Dallas on Wednesday (June 5, 2013) left two workers dead. Authorities have identified 59-year old Humble resident Jimmie O’Farrell as one of the workers who was killed, but have identified the other deceased worker only as a 51-year old man from Duncanville.
According to the news reports, O’Farrell and his co-worker were in the parking lot of Nationwide Plastics on Wednesday evening at about 6:45 p.m. when the accident happened. Both men were working with a load that was in the back of a truck when an unmanned forklift, for unknown reasons, became mobile and ran over them.
Both were killed immediately in the accident and police are still investigating the cause.
Scene of the Accident
In all likelihood, this employer carries workers’ comp coverage and will handle this accident through their administrative process. What does this mean for the victims and their families? In most instances, the victim’s family would receive wrongful death benefits from the workers’ comp claim that would be filed in conjunction with the fatal accident. However, workers’ comp coverage prevents a lawsuit from being filed against the employer, except in the case of gross negligence. This is significant because the wrongful death benefits paid out by the workers’ comp claim are ultimately based on current wages and economic factors, but do not include the damages for loss of spouse, loss of companionship, and all the other aspects of being part of a family that isn’t accounted for in numbers. If, in fact, gross negligence was the major contributing factor here (and I am skeptical of how a forklift can simply become mobile without some irresponsibility being a factor) then Texas Labor Law does allow a cause of action to be brought against the employer so that hopefully the family can receive their due amount of damages from the loss of their father, brother, or husband.
Lastly, I would really recommend a thorough investigation here because whenever heavy machinery is involved in accidents like this one, there is the possibility of a defective machine. This would be an issue with the manufacturer of the forklift, which would ultimately be filed as a products liability claim.
— Grossman Law Offices