All of us have heard that “accidents can happen anywhere.” Most people spend at least a third of their day at their places of employment. Thus, it is no surprise that every year thousands of people are killed or seriously injured at work. On the job deaths or injuries are different from deaths or injuries occurring away from work primarily because of laws, rules and regulations formulated especially for work-related incidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with ensuring and improving safety by employers. Even OSHA’s numerous rules and regulations cannot prevent the thousands of deaths and serious accidents that occur on business premises. Though OSHA’s role in the work place is well known, Workers’ Compensation laws affect on the job injuries more than any other rules or regulations.
Most employers, not all, are required by law to have Workers’ Compensation insurance. Oftentimes, an injured employee’s on-the-job injury is his or her first true introduction to Workers’ Compensation. Injured employees who believe they will be adequately compensated for their injury, their pain and suffering, their mental anguish, medical expenses and other damages recoverable under common law are usually in for a very rude awakening. We have represented hundreds, if not thousands, of injured employees or the families of those killed on the job. With respect to the benefits recoverable under Workers’ Compensation, not one of these employees or survivors of an employee has been satisfied with the Workers’ Compensation recovery. Because Workers’ Compensation recoveries are defined and limited, injured employees and their attorneys must look beyond Workers’ Compensation for an adequate recovery.
Any on-the-job death or injury should be fully examined to determine what Workers’ Compensation benefits are available. However, the legal analysis does not end there. While the Workers’ Compensation statutes prevent lawsuits against the employer except for the benefits allowed in the statute, they do not prevent third-party suits against any other entity or individual responsible for the death or injury. The good news is these third-party suits are not restricted by Workers’ Compensation laws.
Defectively-designed machines account for some of the most horrific injuries sustained by workers. More often than not, defectively-designed machines are responsible for countless deaths and serious injuries because the manufacturer wanted to lower the costs of production to increase their profit margin. This practice normally results in a machine that is not adequately guarded to protect the user from crushing, cutting, shearing, pinching and other entrapment hazards associated with industrial machinery. Many have been killed and many more have lost limbs to these unguarded machines.
We have represented many clients who have been injured by defective industrial machinery under product liability theories, negligence and wantonness. Depending on the severity of the injury, settlements and verdicts commonly range from six to seven figures. In some instances, the manufacturer’s conduct is so egregious that punitive damages are recoverable. Given the sizeable recovery available with these type injuries it is extremely important to advise our clients on all of their legal claims, Workers’ Compensation and third-party lawsuits. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Kendall Dunson in our firm at (334) 269-2343.
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