Workplace accidents: Owner charged after 2 workers' deaths

Tree trimming can be a potentially dangerous job for workers in California or elsewhere around the country. Such factors as high elevations, power equipment and live power lines all contribute to a high risk of workplace accidents. An investigation of two employee deaths that occurred in 2016 has led to charges against the owner of a La Quinta tree trimming company for fraudulent activities.

According to reports, two employees of the tree trimming business were pollinating trees while in a motorized lift bucket. The bucket came in contact with a power line, and the men were shocked. Another employee found one man dead on the ground after he had fallen from the bucket. While the other workers waited for the power line to be disabled, the second man burned to death after being electrocuted.

The owner of the business was found to have given faulty information to the State Compensation Insurance Fund. According to the district attorney's office, the man represented the jobs as lower risk by mis-classifying his employees and also lied about their pay. Thereby, the insurance fund did not receive $100,000 of workers' compensation funds, and the state failed to receive $35,000 of payroll taxes. Felony charges have been filed against the owner.

Despite the owner's actions, the workers' families were still protected. Survivors of the deceased employees were able to receive death benefits. Provisions for such coverage is provided through the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund.

Workplace accidents can occur in any industry, particularly those with high-risk environments. When a death occurs on the job, survivors are entitled to death benefits through workers' compensation insurance. There may also be recourse for families if a company acted in a negligent manner or did not adequately provide appropriate safeguards for a job. A California workers' compensation attorney can assess the family's situation and determine the best course of action. An experienced lawyer will work to ensure that survivors of victims of workplace accidents receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.

Source:, "Boss of 2 La Quinta men electrocuted at work committed $100K in fraud, DA says," Amy DiPierro, Dec. 11, 2017

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