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There was a tragic accident at a Matanuska-Susitna gravel pit on Thursday. The AP reports that Rich Meshew was killed in a conveyer belt accident. He apparently became tangled in the belt and died of related trauma.

Accidents like this have been happening with greater frequency of late. It’s a shame that owners /operators of such dangerous equipment fail to improve the safety of such devices. Guards must remain in place. Nobody should work around such equipment unless supervised. Innocent lives are being destroyed.

That said, it’s important for Mr. Meshew’s family to understand that they have legal rights. They should consider hiring an attorney well versed in handling claims against industrial corporations and/or government entities, and should be aware of the following aspects of Alaska law:

1. The Statute of Limitations for personal injury / death accidents in Alaska is two years for Adults. AS 09.05.070 provides:

(a) Except as otherwise provided by law, a person may not bring an action (1) for libel, slander, assault, battery, seduction, or false imprisonment, (2) for personal injury or death, or injury to the rights of another not arising on contract and not specifically provided otherwise; (3) for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property, including an action for its specific recovery; (4) upon a statute for a forfeiture or penalty to the state; or (5) upon a liability created by statute, other than a penalty or forfeiture; unless the action is commenced within two years of the accrual of the cause of action.

2. Wrongful Death Claims are handled under AS 09.55.070 and AS 09.55.580. These statutes provide that claims for “pre-death” pain/suffering exist and benefit Mr. Meshew’s estate. Also, if Mr. Meshew has dependents, his estate is entitled to bring just about a full claim for all related losses. Even without dependents, his estate has as limited claim for financial loss. Again, the estate only has two years to settle this claim, or file a lawsuit.

3. Worker’s Compensation Issues: If Mr. Meshew was killed while at work, certain worker’s compensation benefits are due his dependents / estate.

We pray for the Meshew family during this difficult time.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Wrongful Death.

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