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3 Sewer Workers Die After Being Trapped in Columbia City, Indiana Manhole

Wagner Reese

Many workers brave considerable risks when performing their jobs – especially those who use manholes as entry points to utility controls and city infrastructure. In one tragic example of these risks, three Indiana men were recently killed after they became trapped in a manhole in Columbia City, Indiana.

According to reports, the incident occurred on Monday, August 24th at a sewer manhole located in the 400 block of S. Main St. Officials from the Fort Wayne Fire Department say first responders found three men approximately 20 feet below the surface in roughly 5 feet of water.

The victims, who were working for an excavating contractor based in Fort Wayne, include a 48-year-old man and his 21-year-old son, as well as a 43-year-old coworker.

Officials have not reported on what caused the workers to become stuck, and are still conducting a formal investigation. A coroner’s report released by the Whitley County Coroner’s Office say the men had been overcome by fumes and drowned.

Workplace Accidents. What Rights Do Families Have?

Workplace accidents can result in far-reaching repercussions that impact families in profound and permanent ways. Though injured workers and families who’ve lost loved ones in work-related accidents typically obtain benefits through an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, there may be circumstances when civil legal action against a negligent party (or multiple parties) is warranted. Such potentially labile third parties can include the general contractor for the project, the construction manager, and/or the owner of the project.

As civil claims, third-party personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits can provide victims and families with compensation for a broader scope of damages than what is typically available under workers’ compensation – including financial compensation for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and other non-economic losses. Determining whether families have grounds to pursue such a claim, however, requires extensive investigation by experienced attorneys. Further, in order to ensure that any relevant evidence is not lost or destroyed, it is imperative that a family hire a competent attorney to begin such an investigation as soon as possible.

At Wagner Reese, our award-winning lawyers are passionate about helping families explore their rights and options in the wake of serious and fatal workplace accidents. We know our work can be critical to finding an underlying cause of negligence, and to ensuring such failures are addressed so as to prevent avoidable harm from happening to others in the future.

If you have questions about a work-related accident, our team offers free and confidential consultations. Call or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

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