A Kansas City man who was severely hurt in a workplace accident at a UPS facility on February 10 has died from his injuries. UPS has stressed, repeatedly, that the man was a contractor and not an employee. The difference matters for the workers’ compensation benefits, though even if there are survivor benefits available, the victim’s lack of dependents to collect it can complicate matters.
Worker Killed in Conveyor Belt Accident at Kansas City UPS
The accident happened on Monday, February 10, 2020, at the UPS facility in northeast Kansas City, Missouri.
According to the initial reports, the fire department responded to a call from the facility around 6pm and found the worker stuck in a conveyor belt system. The 25-year-old had apparently been working alone, and had been without oxygen for more than 10 minutes. After extricating him, he was rushed to the hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
The incident has triggered an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Status as Employee or Contractor Will Make a Difference in Workers’ Compensation
The UPS facility has repeatedly gone out of its way to refer to the victim as a “contractor,” rather than as an “employee.” According to their statements, the maintenance for the conveyor belt system was handled by a vendor, rather than by in-house mechanics.
If true, this would mean that, if there is workers’ compensation coverage for the victim, it would come from that vendor rather than UPS.
Who are the Dependents Who Receive Survivor Benefits?
When a workplace injury proves to be a fatal one, the workers’ compensation benefits go to the victim’s dependents rather than to the victim. These are called survivor benefits, and aim to relieve at least some of the financial strain of the loss of the victim’s income.
A victim’s “dependents” are defined under Missouri Statute 287.240(3). Generally, they are the victim’s spouse and children under the age of 18, including adopted children and those who aren’t born at the time of the victim’s death.
When there are no dependents, as seems to be the case, here, the survivor benefits do not include a portion of the victim’s wages. Instead, they only cover the reasonable costs of the burial, with a cap of $5,000, and the costs of the medical care for the accident.
Those burial expenses are paid directly to the funeral home chosen by the victim’s nearest relative, personal representative, or employer. The medical expenses go to the hospital that provided the care.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
When a victim has no dependents, some employers and workers’ compensation insurance providers see it as an opportunity to shirk their responsibilities and legal obligations. The personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph, Missouri, can help victims and their families get what they deserve after such a terrible accident.
Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for the legal help you need.