California Court Prevents Wrongful Death Suit Against Co-Worker (a Washington Truck Driver) From Proceeding

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted summary judgment to a Washington truck driver in a wrongful death action under the California Labor Code for allegedly causing an accident in California in which the individual in the passenger seat was killed.  The court found that both the defendant driver and the deceased passenger were employees of the Washington trucking company and that as a result, the decedent’s estate’s claims could be remedied exclusively by Washington’s workers’ compensation scheme.  Because the defendant driver was acting in the course of his employment and in furtherance of the trucking company’s business, and long-haul truck drivers were “prototypical examples” of “traveling employees” under Washington law for workers’ compensation purposes, Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act precluded a civil action against an allegedly negligent coworker for personal injuries.  The decedent’s estate also made claims under Washington’s workers’ compensation regime, but those claims were dismissed as time-barred because they were not brought within one year from the time of the decedent’s death.

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