On August 28, 2015, a careless driver’s lane change turned into a tragic motorcycle accident. When the dust settled Michigan State Police trooper Chad H. Wolf had been dragged from his bike and killed, without the driver realizing what he had done.
Trooper Wolf was on patrol on his police motorcycle at 6:30 a.m. when a 72-year-old Waterford driver moved over into his lane. Unable to take evasive maneuvers, Wolf was struck by the driver’s trailer and pulled from his motorcycle.
Somehow, the driver did not notice the impact. He ended up dragging the police officer for several miles along Dixie Highway in Springfield Township until he finally pulled off at a rest stop.
“It is with very heavy hearts that we confirm the death of one of our own, Tpr. Chad Wolf. . . . Our troopers know the dangers they face each time they put on their uniform, but the calling they feel to serve the public is stronger than any fear. Trooper Wolf will forever be remembered as a loving husband, dedicated father and outstanding public servant.”
The driver is cooperating with the police investigating the accident, but it isn’t clear whether he will be criminally charged as a result of the death.
The family of the trooper killed now faces the challenge of collecting wrongful death benefits from Wolf’s insurance company, the Michigan State Police’s workers compensation insurance, and the at-fault driver.
Whenever a driver or motorcycle rider gets hurt while on the job, the employer’s workers compensation insurance becomes the first route to compensation for medical expenses and disability. Whatever is covered by workers compensation is set off from the injured person’s no-fault injury or motorcycle injury insurance. For Trooper Wolf’s family, that means they will need to go through the workers compensation process before they can seek benefits from his motorcycle insurance.
If someone dies as a result of an auto accident there is also a claim against the at-fault driver for damages above and beyond either the employer’s liability or the motorcycle insurance coverage. Those damages could include loss of companionship and support for the trooper’s family, as well as pain and suffering awards that go beyond what the family receives from the state’s workers compensation.
Trooper Wolf’s death was a tragic accident that resulted from an older driver’s inattention to his surroundings on the road. Now the family, and others facing wrongful death actions from work-related auto accidents, will have to navigate several insurance companies and legal systems to be compensated for their loss.
David Christensen is a wrongful death attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents the families of victims in fatal motorcycle accidents to make sure they receive compensation they need to pay final expenses. If you or someone you know is facing loss, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.