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Shapiro & Appleton

Worker Killed When Trench Collapses at N.C. State Campus

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What happened:

A worker was killed in an accident at N.C. State’s Centennial Campus near the intersection of Main Campus and Achievement Drive. Luis Javier Martinez, 39, was part of a work crew from J.F. Wilkerson Contracting in Morrisville that was digging trenches for installation of a 16-inch, 18,000-foot line of pipe.  The dirt around the trench collapsed on the victim and he was trapped under several feet of soil. Officials said a stabilization wall, called a trench box, was in place for safety, but a dirt wall still collapsed.

WTVD reported that it took rescue crews 2.5 hours to pull Martinez from under all the dirt. Raleigh Fire Chief Kendall Hocutt told the station the mission quickly went from rescue to recovery. The ground was too unstable to go into the trench so rescuers needed to vacuum all the dirt out of the trench before they could reach him.

The project is being run by the city of Raleigh for water lines to Lonnie Poole Golf Course. Investigations into the accident are being conducted by OSHA, the Labor Department and N.C. State.


 The North Carolina Injury Lawyer Perspective

Our condolences go out to Mr. Martinez’s family. How horrific it must be for them knowing that he was buried alive and then it took over two hours before his body could be pulled from the collapse. Hopefully, the investigations taking place will be able to offer some kind of answers as to why this tragedy occurred.

When workers are injured on the job, worker's compensation laws usually prevent a claim from being made against their own employer. There are some rare exceptions, such as when an employer knowingly violates safety statutes and some other narrow exceptions apply.

Personal injury lawyers examine whether a third-party company or entity created a dangerous condition, because claims against third parties are permitted as by definition third parties are not the employer of the worker.  The situations become complicated, and legal advice may be necessary.

Main Campus and Achievment Drive, Raleigh, N.C.


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