Thousands of workers suffer serious injuries or are killed on the job as a result of defective industrial products every year. In fact, many times when our lawyers are investigating a worker’s compensation case, they discover a defective industrial product is to blame.
Industrial products may include manufacturing equipment, farming equipment and construction equipment. When a worker is seriously injured or killed on the job, it is important to look closely at the working environment.
Machinery may lack proper safety guards, safety instructions may not be properly posted or may be missing altogether. The industrial product may not be properly secured, or workers may have been instructed to use the product improperly.
Although a state’s workers’ compensation system [link to work comp page] places limitations on the ability of employees to hold employers accountable for work-related injuries, many people do not realize that there may be another available source of recovery. If a product causes an on-the-job injury, a product liability suit may be brought against the product’s manufacturer. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries, deaths and amputations commonly occur from defective products found in the work place.
We help ensure that employers, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause.
The importance of examining third party claims when examining workers’ compensation claims is extremely important to the client. All common law damages, past/future pain and suffering, past/future mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, lost income and punitive damages are recoverable. Additionally, spouses of injured employees can file loss of services or consortium claims. This, of course, is not possible under workers’ compensation.
Manufacturing equipment is diverse and varied, spanning a number of industries. Products in the food and pharmaceutical industries may include centrifuges, dough processing machines, flour milling machines and food processing equipment.
Hardware and building material machinery may include products like saws, wood production equipment, block cutting machines and wire cutters. Metalworking machinery includes things like laser cutting machines, screw presses, punching machines and metal milling machines. Manufacturing equipment also is used in such industries as plastics, packaging, printing, textiles and process automation systems.
In today’s modern world, the old horse and plow has likely been replaced by heavy machinery and high-tech equipment. Tractors and combines harvest crops, automated balers manipulate the crops into bales or bundles, conveyor belts help move large quantities in a speedy fashion. But with all this automation comes potential danger. Defective equipment poses a risk of devastating injury or even death.
Malfunctions may result from defective design or implementation in farm equipment, affecting things like motors, tires and moving parts. Large, heavy farm equipment may become deadly as a result of these defects, posing hazards such as rollover, crushing or amputation as farmers lose control.
Much like manufacturing equipment, construction equipment spans many different types of environments. Defective construction equipment can range from cranes to excavators to logging skidders.
The firm has represented numerous clients involved in defective crane cases. In several of the cases, cranes tipped over as a result of poorly designed stability outriggers. Many cranes and boom trucks have outriggers that extend beyond the perimeters of the vehicle in order to provide stability during crane or boom operations.
We also have represented construction workers who were crushed on the job when an excavator bucket released from a large excavator and fell on them. Workers involved in this type of accident may be trapped under the bucket and then suffer through a lengthy extrication process, and sustain serious crushing injuries. Sometimes, this results in amputation and long-term effects from internal injuries.
Often, a manufacturer will claim operator error when an accident like this happens, but simple design changes could completely prevent this type failure from occurring in the first place.
Finally, a skidder is a type of heavy vehicle used in a logging operation for pulling cut trees out of a forest. The skidder operator is exposed to numerous environmental hazards. The defect with skidders manufactured prior to 1991 is that the occupant’s protective system leaves the operator vulnerable to being seriously injured by objects in the woods. They were built and sold without doors. As a result, the operator was exposed to is being struck and seriously or fatally injured by trees or other saplings while skidding.