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1 dead, 7 suffer workplace injury when train hits film crew

There is one group of workers who labor industriously in the making of movies and documentaries. They are the grips and camera assistants who work hard and long behind the camera to produce and capture the fruits of the actors' efforts. They get no glory but are nonetheless essential to making a quality product. In Colorado or elsewhere, when one of them sustains a workplace injury, it brings to light the fact that they are protected by the workers' compensation laws.

In Colorado and all other states, a business with employees must carry workers' compensation coverage for on-the-job injury. This applies equally to movie production companies and similar enterprises. When a camera assistant dies on the job her family gets the benefits provided by law.

A tragic event occurred recently during the filming of a movie about the life of a rock star. It occurred in Georgia on a small railroad track over a river. A freight train came out of nowhere and barreled into the film crew. Although they valiantly tried to escape, seven were injured and one 27-year-old female with a promising future was killed.

This tragedy begs the question of who was reckless enough to allow the workers to be filming a full-fledged movie scene in the path of an oncoming train. It appears that safety standards for those behind the cameras have been wanting, according to the cry coming from co-workers of the decedent and those in the industry nationwide. They claim that the industry doesn't enforce the safety provisions that are prescribed.

Furthermore, some in the profession are now revealing that a camera crew worker may get in trouble and not be hired again if they complain about safety. Under Colorado law and that of all other states, workers' compensation benefits are payable to the crew members who suffered a workplace injury and to the immediate family of the decedent. Furthermore, the workers may have tort claims against the railroad and the movie producers. Although the employer cannot generally be sued, here the exposure to danger was egregious, reckless and inexcusable, so that a claim may possibly succeed against the employer or other potentially liable third parties.

Source: The Detroit News, Camera assistant's death rallies worried workers, Marney Rich Keenan, Feb. 28, 2014

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