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Fatal California Work Accident: Worker Trapped in Tuna Oven

December 31, 1969

Work-safety investigators are trying to determine what led to the death of a tuna worker cooked in an oven.

Wrongful death in Los Angeles can occur on or off the job. Typically, those injured on the job are entitled to workers' compensation benefits -- including death benefits in the event of a fatal accident. Workers' compensation is meant to provide benefits to employees while protecting employers from possible ruinous judgments via personal injury litigation. However, there are circumstances where a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought in connection with a fatal work accident -- most often as a third-party liability claim that alleges wrongdoing on the part of a subcontractor or someone other than your employer. Speaking to Vincent Howard or another experienced injury attorney can help you best protect your rights and determine your options in the wake of such a tragedy. 1207444_courtroom_1.jpg

The San Jose Mercury News reports the 62-year-old worker had been employed for six years when last week's accident occurred at the Bumble Bee seafood processing plant in Santa Fe Springs. The plant, located at its current site since 1990, employs about 300 people in southeast Los Angeles County. It reopened Monday after being closed through the weekend following Thursday's accident.

The employee, a husband and father of six children, died after being trapped inside an industrial sized pressure cooker, which he routinely loaded with tuna. A spokesperson for the California Division of Occupations Safety and Health, which is investigating the incident, said the victim was cooked to death. Results of the investigation are not expected for about six months.

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,609 employees were killed in work accidents last year. Fatal work accidents in California claimed 360 lives last year, compared to 326 in 2010. Officials believe those numbers will continue to climb as the economy improves.

Fatal California work accidents in 2011:

118 transportation accidents

85 acts of workplace violence

9 fires/explosions

60 fall accidents

36 exposure to harmful substances

50 contact with objects or equipment

The important thing for employees to remember is that, while state and federal workers' compensation laws do provide benefits to injured workers, the laws do a better job of protecting the employer than they do of ensuring an injured worker understands his or her rights. Typically, you are sent to a doctor or medical specialist chosen by your employer's insurance provider. In fact, the whole process often puts at odds what's in your best interest compared to your employer's.

And you typically have a limited amount of time to report an injury or file a claim. Failure to follow specific requirements can result in a delay of your claim or a denial of benefits. If you or a loved one has been injured at work, consulting and experienced personal injury law firm can put the resources on your side that are so often vital to obtaining an adequate recovery.

Injured in Los Angeles? Call 1-800-872-5925 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.