Photo courtesy of NY Daily News
Whoever thought that a seemingly harmless job at Dunkin Donuts in Smithtown could cause the death of a 17-year old student in his prime? As reported in Newsday, Amiri Zeqiri fell into a cesspool after a metal cover collapsed while he was walking to dump garbage behind the Donut shop.
The bizarre accident is reminds me of the sad death last year on Long Island of the Walmart employee who was trampled by a crowd of over eager customers in Valley Stream. You would not normally think of Walmart as an exceedingly dangerous place to work either, but workers compensation lawyers like myself deal with such unusual death claims on a regular basis.
So what, if anything, is the family of this young man entitled to from the workers compensation system for the loss of his life? Unfortunately, not much. Assuming he has left no dependents, his life under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law is worth a meager $50,000 payable to his estate. In addition, the insurance carrier for Dunkin Donut’s will have to pay $6,000 toward his funeral bill (this is the maximum allowed under the law currently, although funerals on Long Island are currently costing at least double that amount).
So initially, regardless of the family’s current financial status, they are going to have to come up with big bucks just to bury their loved one, and wait months for only partial reimbursement through the workers’ compensation system. This obviously just adds insult to injury.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Amiri Zeqiri’s family. However, we are glad that Suffolk County homicide detectives continue to investigate why the sewer cover collapsed. Certainly, the owner of the property, JKH Realty Group in Queens (no stranger to Town of Smithtown violations) , has a lot of explaining to do.
But for the time being, let us all remember that there are no "safe" workplaces here in New York, even if its just the local donut shop.