$3,500,000 Wrongful Death Recovery California



Decedent was working for a farm labor company and was crushed to death by the negligent operation of a backhoe driven by an employee of the hiring farm they were working on. Normally, this is considered a worker’s compensation claim only, not a civil claim, and the decedent’s family is limited to under $300,000 in damages. This is known as the “exclusive remedy” principle. In fact, our initial demand to the insurance company for the farm was denied on this basis. However, there is an exception to this principle. In order to be protected, both employers at the time (the hiring farm and the farm labor company) need to provide either workers compensation themselves or an agreement with the other company to provide such insurance.

We filed a lawsuit without knowing if they had these documents and sought them out in discovery. We found that while the farm labor company did provide workers compensation coverage, the hiring farm did not have such coverage, nor a written agreement for the labor company to provide it. Despite the fact that the family of decedent did have workers compensation coverage through the farm labor company, and they were receiving benefits, we were still able to carry a civil claim against the hiring farm. Passing that hurdle, and after we produced expert testimony clearly detailing the negligence of the backhoe operator, the case settled against the hiring farm in mediation for $3,500,000.