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Man found dead in school work truck

Just after noon, employees of an Illinois elementary school found a 42-year-old man dead in the back of a school maintenance truck. There were no signs of violence at the scene, and no cause of death was immediately apparent. The high sides of the truck bed prevented an easy view into the back, while also sheltering any occupants from the winter cold. For this reason the driver of the truck, an employee of the school, had been using the vehicle throughout the morning unaware of the body.

The truck was, however, parked in full view of the school. In order to avoid a commotion among the young students, police blocked the classroom windows before allowing emergency medical workers to remove the body. Upon investigation, the dead man, who had been missing for about a day, was formally identified. Police announced he was known to their department but provided no further details.

Workers' compensation insurance covers the liability of employers for workplace-related accidents, as well as repetitive injuries, chemical exposure and illnesses suffered in the course and scope of employment. Comp claims also include wrongful death, when it is found that the employer or the working conditions are at fault. In this case, the school's workers' comp policy would likely not cover damages to the victim or to his family, whether he died of exposure or some other cause.

Employees, and not students, customers, visitors or the general public, are covered under work comp policies. In the case of a non-employee who dies on the employer's legal property, which includes vehicles on or off campus, only a general liability policy would cover a victim's injuries or death. Workers' comp might, however, cover physical injuries or psychological trauma experienced by an employee discovering or handling the body.

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch, "Waterloo man found dead in back of work truck at elementary school", David Hunn, December 23, 2014

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