According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than four million people in the United States suffer a workplace illness or injury each year. More than one thousand people are killed as a result of these illnesses and injuries. Car crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities, and construction work is, statistically, the most dangerous profession. Alarmingly, most workplace injuries and fatalities are completely preventable. With proper training and care, most of these devastating accidents can be avoided.
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the widow of a former old attractions mechanic who died while working on a ride at Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. Lawyers for Walt Disney argued in court last week that the wrongful death lawsuit should be dismissed, as cases that fall under worker’s compensation are generally immune from further claims against the employer. Given the facts surrounding the death, however, a Florida Circuit Court has denied that motion, and determined that the wrongful death case will be tried before a jury.
Russell Roscoe, aged 52, died in 2011 while working on a ride called the Primeval Whirl at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park. He and other mechanics were wet testing the ride, which means they were testing how the mechanics of the ride worked while under conditions comparable to rain. Roscoe was in the ride envelope when he was killed. The ride envelope is an area close to the tracks. Normally, a ride should not be operated when a person is within the ride envelope, as it can cause a great risk of injury or even death. Somehow, a ride car was released onto the tracks, striking and killing Roscoe.
Under Florida law, employers are immune from lawsuits when the employee is entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. The only exception is when the plaintiff can prove that the employer knew the worker was in a situation “virtually certain to result in injury or death,” and that the danger was not apparent to the employee because the employer misrepresented or concealed the danger.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, there may be enough evidence to prove that Roscoe’s managers at Disney knew that he was in a dangerous situation. Furthermore, because Roscoe was in the ride envelope, there may be sufficient evidence to prove that the danger was not apparent to him at the time.
Have you or a loved one been injured or killed on the job? Please call 617-787-3700 today to speak with an expert Boston worker’s compensation attorney.