The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Worker Killed Cutting Tree in Bucks County: Wrongful Death?

If you live in the north, people assume that you want to be a lumberjack. However, trees grow everywhere, so you don’t have to live in Canada to cut down trees. Unfortunately, cutting down trees is a dangerous job.

A member of a tree service crew was killed while working with a team taking down an 80-foot tree in Bucks County. A large limb started to swing while it was being lowered to the ground, and it hit Martin David Reusing of West Reading in the neck, according to WPVI-TV. Reusing died shortly after being hit.

Does his family have a wrongful death claim?

A "wrongful death" is one that is caused by another person, either through negligent or intentional acts. This type of case can generally be brought by the surviving children or spouse. You can recover loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses.

Here, there don't seem to be any intentional actions that caused the limb to swing, so the only way to recover would be to prove that negligence was involved.

Negligence is when a person breaches a legal duty owed to another that causes harm. All people have a duty to act like a reasonable person in their everyday activities.

The question is whether the swinging of the limb was caused by a member of the team not being reasonable in lowering it. If, for example, the person lowering the limb had been drunk or was lowering the branch in a way different from how he was trained, then he would not be acting like a reasonable person.

The other issue is whether Reusing was negligent in his actions. Under the theory of comparative negligence, any damage award can be reduced by the fault placed on the victim. If he was killed cutting the tree because he was not paying attention, then any recovery would be reduced.

It is a sad day when anyone dies on the job, especially close to home in Bucks County. Hopefully the family will be compensated if this was more than just an accident.

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