Actor and model George Gregory Plitt Jr. were hit by a Metrolink train last Saturday while standing on the Metrolink tracks, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to reports, the actor was in the midst of filming at around 4 p.m. on Saturday when a Metrolink train heading southbound struck and killed him. Suicide has been ruled out, and officials are still trying to figure out who was filming at the time, and for what.
While we do not yet know if Plitt was filming for work at the time of the accident, we may be seeing Plitt’s estate suing for wrongful death and other damages if he was in fact filming for work at the time of the accident. As we have already discussed on numerous occasions on this blog, when an individual is injured (or, in this case, killed) on the job, whether that individual will be able to sue the person who hired him to do the job will depend on whether that individual was, under the law, an employee or an independent contractor. Where an employer hires an employee for work, the employer is required under the law to obtain workers’ compensation insurance, and that insurance would have to pay for the employee’s injuries. However, if a business hires another individual as an independent contractor, then the business will, in most cases at least, not be liable for the independent contractor’s injuries on the job. However, there are exceptions, one of them being when an independent contractor is asked to do what courts consider to be inherently dangerous work.
Of course, it is always important for businesses to remember that just because you label someone an independent contractor does not mean that they are necessarily an independent contractor under the law.