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Yorktown Teenager Killed in Tragic Work Accident

Jason Reese

On Saturday, May 14, Cody Bronnenberg was working with his uncle, the owner of Homeland Tree Service. The two men were working together at a home on County Road 200 North just east of State Road 3 when Bronnenberg somehow became entangled with the tree stump grinder he was operating. Blackford County Coroner, Tod Waters, said the teenager had multiple traumatic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Initial reports indicate the tree machinery was most likely working appropriately at the time of the accident.

In fatal work-related accidents such as this, the beneficiaries of the deceased are eligible for funeral expenses and burial costs, as well as 500 weeks of death benefit payments. Though death benefits are provided for by Indiana’s Workers’ Compensation laws, there are many obstacles that may create delays or minimize the compensation to those impacted by the loss of a loved one. An experienced attorney can help keep the process moving in order to ensure the family has the financial support they need. Situations in which legal representation can be incredibly useful in workers’ compensation cases are:

  • Negotiating a lump sum payment to ensure death benefits do not terminate at an untimely moment for the family;
  • Navigating the process when an employer or employer’s insurance company are fighting the payout, including when there is a request for an autopsy;
  • Seeking compensation if you have been financially impacted by a death but are not an immediate member of the family.

Wrongful Death vs. Workers’ Compensation Claims

In most instances, employees are not allowed to sue their employers for injuries in the workplace because those injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. There are, however, exceptions. Some state’s laws say that if an employee loses his or her life due to the negligence or misconduct of another, there may be grounds for a wrongful death claim in addition to the workers’ compensation claim. In Indiana, this is not the case. There are very limited circumstances related to construction sites when a wrongful death case may be brought. Otherwise, the family will pursue compensation through workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation laws provide death benefits to surviving family members but are limited to financial losses and also fail to replace the full salary of the deceased. A successful wrongful death claims can provide compensation for a wider range of survivor support, including for:

  • A lifetime of lost income;
  • Medical bills accrued prior to death;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • The mental pain and suffering of survivors.

Workers’ compensation claims that are denied in an initial review become quite complicated and much harder to recover. The attorneys at Wagner Reese can raise the odds of success in a workers’ compensation claim and can also help you determine if you have a third-party wrongful death claim. There’s no need to try and do this yourself—we offer a free consultation and never receive payment unless your case is won or settled. Call us today at (888) 204-8440.


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