California Vineyard Accidents
California Vineyard Accidents
I’m Ed Smith, a California farming accident attorney. It has been a particularly deadly year for California agricultural workers. At the Law Office of Edward A Smith, we help those working in this hazardous profession.
California Vineyard Workers Crushed, Drowned in Hazardous Profession
On 5 October, a forklift rollover killed Arnulfo Pozos, a worker harvesting grapes at a Napa Valley vineyard. Pozos was driving the forklift along a steep hill at approximately 4:45 pm when the forklift went over the side and rolled several times. Preliminary reports indicate Pozos was ejected from the forklift before being crushed by the machine as it rolled down the hill.
Sadly, Pozos was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and the cause of the accident is unknown. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is investigating but has not released their report.
Recent California Vineyard Accidents and Deaths
Arnulfo Pozos’ accident nearly a month after another Napa Valley worker died. On 31 August, Jose Alberto Avina died after metal wine barrel racks fell on him, crushing him. Avina was helping guide a forklift operator moving the racks off of a truck when the racks tipped. Avina tripped in his attempt to get out of the way of the estimated 1,445 pounds of metal, killing him almost instantly.
Avina’s accident came just two months after Alejandro Cabrera drowned while working at a third Napa, California vineyard. Cabrera apparently drowned while surveying the walls of a reservoir for damage. No additional cause is known.
Vineyards as a Hazardous Work Environment
The three deaths above merely illustrate the hazards of the farming profession in general and the winemaking industry specifically. No statistics specifically document the hazards of the winemaking industry, although anecdotal report many examples of the horrific injuries each year.
In 2014, a Lompoc man lost his hand while working at a vineyard. Also in 2014, a Sonoma winery owner suffered extensive skeletal injuries, including a minor back injury in a tractor accident on his own farm. In 2008, a Lake County man sustained severe abdominal trauma and chest trauma before drowning while working at a vineyard in Upper Lake.
Forklifts Compound Vineyard Dangers
Two of the accidents above involved forklifts, showing how forklifts common on farms only increase the risk of injury and death for farm workers. According to the National Forklift Exchange (NFE), forklift accidents are primarily caused by one or more of seven distinct factors.
Poorly trained drivers is the most frequent cause of accident, although this is more typically the result of potentially negligent training practices by the employer. Closely related, speeding, improper turning, operating the forklift with an elevated load, and operators giving people rides on the forklift are also common causes of accidents. Finally, insufficient warnings and markings in a facility and on the machine itself causes some accidents, while poor workplace design accounts for the rest of the injuries.
Injuries Associated with Forklift Accidents
As the deaths of Arnulfo Pozos and Alberto Avina show, forklift accidents can have devastating consequences. Forklift accidents can overall be wildly unpredictable, with many survivors of these accidents sustaining polytrauma. Broken bones, especially of the legs, also result from forklift accidents.
When combined with the injuries common on farms, forklifts elevate the risk workers face.
Damages Owed in Vineyard Accidents
The families of Arnulfo Pozos, Alberto Avina, and Alejandro Cabrera may be entitled to damages through a wrongful death lawsuit if the machine manufacturers or farm owners are found to have been negligent in any way. Those workers injured on farms are eligible for worker’s compensation regardless of who was at fault for the injury. Injured farm workers, however, may be able to receive additional damages by pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
California Agricultural Injury Attorneys
I’m Ed Smith, a California farming accident attorney. If you or someone you love and care about has been seriously injured or passed away as a result of an agricultural accident, please call me as soon as you are able at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400.
I help California families recover compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims. I have been doing this since 1982.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. We are top trial lawyers in California who have obtained multiple million dollar case settlements and verdicts for the injured people we serve.
See a list of our Past Verdicts and Settlements.
Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons