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New Jersey contract worker killed by falling pylon

Workers' compensation benefits are paid by New Jersey employers to cover injuries or illnesses suffered by workers on the job. According to state workers' compensation laws, benefits for medical bills, disability, wage losses and death are extended to workers classified as employees, but not to independent contractors.

By paying workers' comp benefits, most employers have immunity from accident liability claims brought by workers covered by this insurance.

An unidentified New Jersey man was killed at work recently when a huge 1,200-foot pylon collapsed on top of him. The industrial accident occurred at a Sunoco plant in a neighboring state, where the man was among several hundred contract workers hired to help convert an oil refinery into a natural gas processing plant and storage facility.

The worker, described as a man in his 50s, was an employee of AECOM, an engineering company contracted by Sunoco to help with the construction project. Investigators said the cause of death was blunt force trauma. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the reason for the workplace death.

A worker at a construction site may be contracted by one company and employed by another, often a subcontractor. In this example, the worker would be classified as an employee for the subcontracting firm and as a contractor by the other company. As the employer, the subcontractor would be responsible for insuring the worker.

Fault in some industrial accidents can be linked to a manufacturer's defective machine, the negligence of a property owner or wrong actions by another company. In that case, it may be possible for an injured worker or survivors to file claims for damages against any of these parties.

An attorney's advice can be helpful while filing or disputing a workers' compensation claim. Lawyers also may be able to locate other sources of benefits or compensation to help victims and families recover financially.

Source: State Impact, "Worker dies in accident at Sunoco’s Delaware County refinery," Susan Phillips, March. 31, 2015

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