A strange legal situation has ended a family's legal claim against a California state department and has left several legal experts baffled. The survivors of a man killed on the job ceased their claim against the state after an obscure law blocked their chances of success.
The case involved a private contractor employed by the state firefighting agency who was killed when the bulldozer he operated tipped over while he cleared land in front of a large forest fire. The man's widow and two daughters filed a claim against the alleged negligent supervision of the job nine months later.
The family's lawyer wrote the suit was being dropped because his clients faced a California law that makes it difficult to win negligence claims against state government on incidents involving firefighting injuries.
A superior court judge in Monterey County dismissed the lawsuit a month after this announcement. "The perverse outcome is that his family has nothing," said a legal expert at a California law school. "It's a tragic situation."
The company that employed the bulldozer operator was not providing its employees with workers' compensation coverage at the time of the crash, which has made it difficult for his family to receive benefits from his death. According to the worker's widow, this has made it difficult for the family to get by after his death.
Victims and survivors of workplace accidents or other workplace problems may still seek compensation or damages in order to recover lost wages and other funds. An attorney with experience in employment law can often help forward these claims toward their best chances of success.
Source: KQED, "Family of Dozer Driver Who Died in Big Sur Fire Drops Suit Against State," Ted Goldberg, Nov. 06, 2017