Husband speaks out after industrial accident kills his wife

Tragic accident shows why employee safety must be the #1 priority and how workers’ compensation benefits in Michigan are woefully inadequate.

The Detroit Free Press has reported on another tragic workplace death. A 57-year-old Grand Rapids woman, Wanda Holbrook, was killed when struck by a robotic arm.

The cause of the malfunction is not known and her husband has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against entities responsible for building, designing, and monitoring the robots. “I want to make sure nothing like this happens to another family. We would feel terrible if we didn’t do anything and then another family had to go through something similar to this,” Bill Holbrook said in a telephone interview with the Free Press.

Her employer, who was not included in the wrongful death lawsuit, has disputed workers’ compensation benefits.

Our 2 cents

MIOSHA reported 43 workplace deaths in 2016. Employee safety needs to be the #1 priority for all employers in Michigan. Investments in safety training and equipment are critical. Employers who fail in their responsibilities must be held accountable and stiffer civil/criminal penalties are needed.

Holbrook has limited options against his wife’s employer. Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy and the employer cannot be sued for its negligence. We can only speculate why workers’ compensation benefits have been disputed.

Michigan law requires payment of just $6,000 towards burial expenses. A spouse must then prove factual dependency to get survivors benefits and can be disqualified if he or she has income from another source. Most families require two incomes and this law needs to be changed.

Children over the age of 16 must also prove factual dependency to qualify for benefits. Evidence must be presented showing how much support the deceased parent provided to the child. Benefits will generally stop at age 18.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

MIOSHA: 2016 Fatality Information

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