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New Jersey maintenance worker dies in Turnpike accident

State police say that a maintenance employee died in the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike on July 10 while removing a piece of tire from the highway. The traffic accident occurred about 10:30 a.m. in Kearny.

According to a preliminary investigation, the 32-year-old male worker parked his orange pickup truck on the right shoulder and turned on the amber overhead lights. As he picked up the tire debris, a white box truck that was traveling in the right lane hit the employee.

Police did not disclose the condition of the 20-year-old Howell man who was driving the box truck or his passenger, a 54-year-old Long Branch man, after the accident. However, the maintenance worker was declared dead at the scene around 11 a.m. Authorities say that charges against the box truck driver have not been filed and that the investigation is ongoing.

Similar to pedestrians, road maintenance employees are at a high risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries in traffic accidents. Although maintenance workers have special gear and flashing lights to make them more visible to motorists, human error and negligence put the employees at risk.

Employees who are injured on the job and the dependents of those killed in workplace accidents are usually entitled to workers' compensation benefits. All employers that are not covered under federal programs are required to provide workers' compensation or self-insurance to all of their employees.

The dependents of employees who die as the result of work-related injuries can seek death benefits. They might receive weekly payments amounting to 70 percent of the decedents' weekly wages. Surviving children who are mentally or physically disabled might be entitled to further benefits. If the dependents of a deceased worker have a claim denied or if the insurance carrier offers an inadequate lump-sum settlement, a lawyer could appeal or negotiate for reasonable payments.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 'Workers' Compensation"

Source: Maplewood Patch, "Maintenance Worker Killed on NJ Turnpike", Mike Pignataro, July 11, 2014

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