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Workers' compensation and fatal accidents

Connecticut's workers' compensation system is set up to pay fixed benefits to employees injured on the job without the need for a lawsuit. The purpose of the system is to not only make sure injured employees are compensated for lost wages and medical expenses, but also to make sure that employers don't have to fight off lawsuits every time someone is hurt on the job. The goal behind workers' compensation is ordinarily to both keep the business running and get the worker back on the job as soon as possible.

Sadly, that's not always possible. In just about any kind of workplace, there can be injuries that permanently disable or kill. For that reason, the workers' compensation system provides benefits for permanent disabled workers and the families of fatally injured workers.

Recently, a Connecticut worker was killed on the job when more than a ton of glass fell on him. The 50-year-old man was working in a storage area at a glass distributor along with his brother when a number of large panes of glass weighing about 3,000 pounds fell from a rack on top of him.

A workers' compensation claim is usually considered an exclusive legal remedy for an injury. That means that the family of a worker who is killed on the job ordinarily cannot file a lawsuit against the employer if the family also collects workers' compensation benefits. This restriction ordinarily would not apply to a lawsuit against a third party such as if someone other than the employer was responsible for the accident.

When a worker is killed or left permanently disabled in a workplace accident, the workers' survivors are left without their income. Workers' compensation benefits can't make everything the way it was before a tragic accident, but they can help a family to cope with the aftermath.

Source: Hartford Courant, "3,000 Pounds Of Glass Fall, Kill New Haven Man," David P. McKay, March 23, 2013

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