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NY State Trooper Dies in Training Accident

The New York State Police reported that a state trooper died while engaged in a training exercise that took place in a western New York state park, according to an article in the Syracuse Post Standard. 

If this happens to you or someone you know, then you may be eligible to file a workers compensation claim for death benefits.  If the death was the result of reckless or negligent conduct by another, then you may also be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Details of the Upstate NY Accident

According to a report in Syracuse.com, 44-year-old Ross M. Riley, a “decorated state trooper,” fell approximately 30 feet from a ledge in Letchworth State Park before landing in Wolf Creek.  The state park is located in Wyoming County, NY.  The article indicates that Riley fell “during a high angle rescue training exercise.”

The police continue to look into the events surrounding the accident.  According to the New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico, they will “be looking at all aspects of the fall [to] ultimately determine what occurred.” 

 

Wrongful Death & Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

In New York, a surviving spouse or minor children can receive workers compensation death benefits when their loved one dies “from a compensable injury,” according to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.  In cases where a single individual dies without children, then parents or other close relatives may be able to receive some compensation.

In general, the amount of money is equal to a portion of the deceased’s average weekly earnings from the year before the accident occurred. Unfortunately, there is a “weekly maximum” death benefit allowable under state law. That means that some families may be drastically affected even with this support. 

For that reason, it is important to remember that you may also be eligible for additional compensation if you are able to file a wrongful death claim.  When another party’s negligence leads to someone else’s death, the decedent’s family members can recover compensatory damages via civil lawsuit.  These include recovery for two forms of damages- economic loss and the conscious pain and suffering of the deceased.  As with the worker’s compensation system, recovery is usually limited to surviving spouses or children. But if those parties do not exist, then other relatives (parents, siblings, grandparents) may be able to step in and ensure accountability.

 

It is critical to remember that the workers’ compensation support is granted on different grounds than compensation via a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. In other words, workers’ compensation is intended to be an automatic safety net for fatal work injuries, regardless of the nature of the incident. Conversely, a wrongful death lawsuit requires a showing of negligence on the part of another party. Receiving workers compensation death benefits does not automatically mean that one will receive a wrongful death award. An attorney can explain whether the facts of your case warrant pursuing the lawsuit option. 

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