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Ohio Woman Dies In Factory Accident at Plant With Prior Safety Violations

Jason Reese

Manufacturing Worker Dies at Jeffersonville Plant

The Clark County coroner’s office has released information about a 44-year-old Autoneum North America plant employee, Melissa Stephens, who suffered multiple blunt force trauma in an accident involving a machine at the plant in Jeffersonville. The Swiss-based company confirmed the death in a statement and now say they will begin an internal investigation. News reports have uncovered information about Autoneum’s Toledo, Ohio, plant stating that the facility was fined nearly $570,000 this Spring following the amputation of an employee’s hand, wrist and part of his forearm. It was cited for three “willful violations,” meaning the company was aware of them, and two repeated violations.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Stephens while the exact cause for her tragic death remains under investigation by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

When Safety and Compliance Is Not Met, Workers Are At Risk

Most horrific workplace deaths in the United States are preventable with proper safety precautions. The Indiana Department of Labor’s most recent Fatal Occupational Injuries report was released in December 2016 and found the number of workplace deaths totaling 115 in 2015, tied the state’s lowest total from 2012 since the report was established in 1992. Vehicle crashes were the number one cause of worker fatalities and nearly 48 percent of fatalities involved transportation. Other key numbers came from the construction industry. It saw a 39 percent decrease in workplace deaths. Indiana’s manufacturing industry was up just two from the previous year and reported 12 workplace fatalities in 2015.

When working conditions are not regularly monitored for safety and compliance per standards of the OSHA, workers are put at risk of suffering a fatal injury. And, regardless of the outcome of the investigation on Stephen’s death, or Autoneum North America’s in-house investigation for that matter, the relatives of the deceased can file a wrongful death suit, seeking damages against the employer. Death benefits are secured under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws. In the event of a work-related accident that results in a wrongful death, the benefactors of the deceased person could be eligible for funeral expenses and burial costs, as well as 500 weeks of death benefit payments. These payments may be available in a lump sum, or in structured payments.

It is imperative that your family is well represented by a qualified lawyer in cases like these. Industrial accidents have many dimensions, and it often requires meticulous preparation to prove negligence to the jury and negotiate with the employer’s insurers that the next of kin deserves a higher level of compensation. The employer may have counterclaims of the employee’s negligence leading to the accident, and such claims have to be countered with strong facts and evidence for the wrongful death charges to stick. There is a common theme that runs through all wrongful death cases, however, and that is negligence and recklessness.

About our Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyers

Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your Indiana accidental or wrongful death claim with years of experience and proven results. Contact us now at (888) 204-8440 to schedule an appointment in our Indianapolis or Carmel offices, or use our convenient, confidential contact form.


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