The law guarantees every American worker the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Tragically, that promise is broken every day in workplaces all across our country. For decades, workers and their families have turned to Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer to investigate whether a lawsuit can and should be filed after serious or fatal accidents that took place on the job.
Workers’ compensation – “no-fault” benefits paid by the injured worker’s employer – do not cover all of the losses and consequences caused by work injuries. Workers’ compensation does not acknowledge at all the pain, the disruption in one’s home life, the worry, nor the loss of life’s pleasures caused by an injury on the job. Under workers’ compensation, wages are only partially replaced. Family members and dependents receive little or no benefits. In some situations, however, lawsuits can be filed to be compensated for these losses. The amount of damages awarded in a lawsuit can be several times more than the workers’ compensation benefits.
In almost every state, its Workers’ Compensation Act provides immunity to employers and to co-workers from negligence lawsuits filed by injured workers or their families. The protection from a lawsuit, however, does not extend to anyone beyond your employer and co-workers. Lawsuits can be brought against any company or person, other than your employer, who caused or contributed to your accident or to the worsening of your injuries. You can continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits while investigating and pursuing a lawsuit.
Lawsuits can also prompt equipment manufacturers, chemical suppliers, safety “consultants” and property owners to provide safer products and a safer workplace. Because, in an industrial accident, we think of the worker and the company as the two principal parties involved, lawsuits against outsiders are called “third-party lawsuits.”
The attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer have secured seven- and eight-figure recoveries for clients in third-party lawsuits who were injured at work because:
- A manufacturer of “flame resistant” uniforms used the wrong fabric to make clothing to be used in a foundry; the fabric was easily combustible causing severe burn injuries;
- A boiler inspection company failed to notice and correct the lack of a safety relief valve on a high-pressure boiler, which exploded;
- The manufacturer of a stand-up forklift failed to provide a protective structure around the operator compartment, so that the operator was fatally crushed when the forklift under-rode a warehouse shelf bracket;
- A commercial laundry sold an old steam ironer with the guards removed from the ingoing nip point of the heated rollers;
- A utility company did not maintain adequate clearance for its energized power lines as required by the National Electrical Safety Code, leaving the uninsulated lines too close to a building that was being painted;
- A chemical manufacturer packaged its sulfuric acid in five-gallon glass bottles that were not covered by a protective safety coating despite knowing the bottle was going to be used in a busy factory;
- The manufacturer of the dust collection system for very small combustible dusts did not properly ground the equipment allowing a static electric charge to build up and ignite a dust explosion; and
- A nursing home failed to alert a visiting nurse, who was employed by an outside contractor, that the patient from whom she was drawing blood was combative and had hepatitis.
Injured workers often decide to not investigate a third-party lawsuit because they think the accident was their own fault or another worker’s fault and therefore they cannot file a claim. But just because you are accused of committing an “unsafe act” does not mean that you have no case. For more than a century, a fundamental principle of industrial safety has been: “To err is human, to forgive: design.” Responsible equipment designers have to anticipate in the design of their products that people make mistakes.
Under most states’ workers’ compensation laws, the workers’ compensation carrier has “subrogation” rights against any third-party lawsuit, which means that, from the injured worker’s financial recovery, the carrier will be paid back all of the benefits it paid to the injured worker. Because of this, an injured worker’s employer should support the worker in investigating and pursuing a third-party lawsuit.
Benefits Of Hiring A Work Injury Attorney
It is important to preserve all evidence from a work-related accident and, if possible, document the accident scene with photos. Since many types of injuries occur and the proof required to establish who was negligent or otherwise at fault for a workplace injury is complex, a workplace injury attorney familiar with this area of law – as well as workplace safety issues — may be able to help you bring forth a successful claim.
The attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer are committed to fighting for the financial security so needed by the injured worker and their family. We also work to ensure that in the future more workers aren’t hurt in the same way.
We strive in every one of our client’s cases to promote safer work practices, to redesign products, and to revamp training.
Our lawyers have written manuals and articles on safety in the workplace. Attorney Martin Brigham was lead author of the book Injured on the Job, published by the Philadelphia Area Project of Occupational Safety and Health (PhilaPOSH). PhilaPOSH has recognized Mr. Brigham for his lifetime commitment to promoting workplace safety.
Common Types Of Workplace Injuries
There are many types of workplace injuries. In terms of the most common types that occur in workplace injury lawsuits, some of the more severe workplace injuries include:
- Falls from loading docks, roofs, scaffolds or work platforms causing paralysis or death
- Amputations caused by unguarded machinery
- Burns caused by fires, chemicals or explosions
- Construction worksite accidents
- Car or truck accidents while driving for work
- Injuries caused by explosions from propane leaks, combustible dust clouds or pressurized vessels
- Contact with an energized piece of electrical equipment or power line
- Pieces of equipment or materials falling from a height and striking a worker
- Accidents from power tools, such as planers, saws, band-saws, and lathes
- Traumatic injuries caused by presses and rolling mills
- Injuries caused by a conveyor, hoist or crane
- Injuries caused by inadvertent or un-intended activation of controls on a piece of equipment
- Harm caused by defective equipment or unguarded machinery
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Injuries due to forklifts, sideloaders, pallet jacks, order pickers or high-reaches
- Nail gun workplace injuries
- Punch press and sheet metal fabrication machine injuries
- Injuries sustained by Railroad Workers
Many of these types of injuries are caused by the improper design of equipment. Without proper safety features in place, dangerous equipment used in many manufacturing, heavy equipment jobs, factory workplaces, and industrial workplaces can cause workplace injuries.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered?
When a workplace injury is due to the negligent or wrongful actions of a third party, the injured employee may be entitled to additional damages beyond workers’ compensation. Awards may be made to compensate for:
? lost future employment opportunities due to the severity of the harm caused;
? pain and suffering;
? resulting spousal harm;
? loss of life compensation, which can include the loss of enjoyment of life directly caused by the injury; and
? the cost of continued care if necessitated due to the severity of the workplace injury.
This is not an exhaustive list of the compensations to which you may be entitled for a workplace injury. In some cases, the conduct of the third party is so egregious that it may be also assessed punitive damages.
Since a workplace injury can result in severe damage, physically, emotionally, and to the enjoyment of life, it is vital to find out the types of compensation you may be able to recover. Some workplace injuries will severely impact an employee’s general ability to perform everyday life activities. The emotional toll and physical impact are also often significant. By learning what compensation you may be entitled to if you had a workplace injury, you may be able to receive an award to help make up for the damages you sustained.
Need Help with Your Workplace Injury Claim? Consult an Attorney.
A workplace injury lawyer can help guide you in assessing the type of claim you may have and the strength of your case. By consulting with an attorney, you may obtain additional information that will be helpful when you decide whether your case is worth pursuing.
If you need a workplace injury attorney, contact Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer today by filling out our contact form or by calling our toll-free number at (800) 535-1797. We will review your case and get back to you to discuss your situation as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one has been critically injured do to someone else’s negligence, please click here to fill out the contact form, or call 1-800-535-1797 and someone from our team will be ready to help.
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