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DOL fines Montana animal company for worker's wrongful death

Residents of Billings, Montana, may be concerned that the state currently ranks one of the top three states with the highest workplace deaths. According to a report from the AFL-CIO, Montana ranks third with 11.2 per 100,000. Overlooking the safety of a workplace can result in serious injuries or worse, a wrongful death.

A recent development regarding the mauling of a bear that resulted in the death of a worker is taking center stage in Bozeman, Montana. The Labor Department proposes that the company, Animals of Montana, pay a fine of up to $9,000.

The accident happened last year while an employee was cleaning the enclosure of two grizzly bears. The man was allegedly attacked but it is not clear if both bears were involved. The 24-year-old man died due to his injuries; it was the first fatality in Montana related to zoos and other animal facilities. There is no information about whether a lawsuit has been filed.

According to the report, the business may have avoided the fatal accident if the company secured the grizzlies in a separate holding area while the employee was cleaning their cage. According to the citation, the business exposed the employee to direct danger by failing to provide a hazard-free environment, knowing that bears can potentially attack. The notice may fine the company $7,000 for the safety violation and $2,000 for failing to report the incident on time. The company has 15 days to discuss the penalties with federal officials.

Each day, 150 workers die from occupational diseases or injuries in the country. The death of a loved one at work can devastate a family emotionally and financially. Going through the pain of loss of companionship is disheartening. The surviving family may also face financial difficulties because of funeral expenses and lost opportunities.

The family may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim to claim fair compensation. Although the life of the victim is priceless, the compensation can help the family financially after such a tragic loss.

Source: Reuters, "Regulators cite Montana company in fatal 2012 bear mauling," Laura Zuckerman, May 1, 2013

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