Employers must ensure that their workers are safe from workplace hazards. This is especially true when they work around heavy industrial equipment. But the makers of these machines also must ensure the safety of those who work in or around the equipment. All parties that fail to protect workers should be held responsible when a tragic on-the-job accident occurs.
Kendall Dunson and Ben Keen, lawyers in our Atlanta office, are handling such a case. Our client worked at a Chicken of the Sea plant in Chatham County, Georgia. She was performing a process known as recovery when she was injured. During recovery, the worker shuts off the machine and gathers excess tuna from around and under the parts of the equipment to be reused or discarded. While our client was retrieving leftover tuna, the machine activated. Our client’s dominant hand became trapped in the machine for over 30 minutes.
Our client’s injuries were so severe that doctors had to amputate several of her fingers. She suffered nerve damage resulting in constant pain that restricts her ability to use her dominant hand. Since her injury, our client hasn’t been able to work or care for her family as she did before the accident.
Our referring attorney handled the workers’ compensation claim and referred the case to us to investigate whether product liability played a role. We examined the machine and determined, based on our analysis, that the machine lacked adequate guarding. During discovery, we obtained a document detailing the company’s own review of the machine and the hazards posed to operators. The report identified the same danger that injured our client and called for the area to be guarded to prevent injury.
The machines the company sold or leased in Europe had the guarding. But the ones sold in the U.S. did not. Had the guards been in place when the accident happened, our client wouldn’t have suffered a catastrophic injury.
“When a manufacturer’s negligence harms a worker, a third-party products liability claim should be investigated,” Kendall says. “In our client’s case, the machine manufacturer recognized the hazard and proposed a solution that would have prevented our client’s injury. Instead, the company chose to put profits ahead of workers’ safety.”
There are practical strategies a lawyer must consider when preparing to pursue such a case. Our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section has several lawyers specializing in on-the-job injury claims. We are focused on identifying all liable parties and seeking maximum compensation for our clients.