“My husband was injured when a chunk of wood flew out from a machine he using, can we sue?”
I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today’s question comes from a caller whose husband was injured when a chunk of wood flew out from a machine he was using at work and was nearly driven clear through his stomach; he luckily survived, and she wanted to know if she could sue the machine manufacturer as well as her husband’s employer.
This is a common question for us to answer. It is very important in Indiana since workers compensation benefits in Indiana are very minimal.
Workers all across the country suffer serious injuries or are killed on the job as a result of defective industrial products each year. The type of industrial products involved in worker injuries includes manufacturing equipment, farming equipment and construction equipment.
Many times, when our legal team investigates a worker’s compensation case, we discover that a defective industrial product is what lead to the on the job injury. That can be a fortunate discovery because that piece of information allows the injury claim to go beyond the typical bounds of Indiana’s worker’s compensation laws.
What type of product defects are we talking about? You name it. Machinery may lack proper safety guards, or perhaps there were no safety instructions or warnings with the product.
Sometimes we find that the fault lies with the employer for failing to instruct an employee to use the product properly. Sometimes we find that a machine was shipped with a safety guard, but the employer removed it.
Tough to hold the product maker responsible for an employer removing a guard, unless the maker didn’t post a warning instructing that safety guards are not to be removed. Or, maybe the maker could be held liable if it failed to install an interlock that would prevent the machine from starting if the safety guard was removed. This type of interlock is similar to a car not starting unless your foot is on the brake.
When a worker is seriously injured or killed on the job, it is important to look closely at the working environment. Was the machinery involved to blame? Was the worker simply not being careful? All such factors need to be looked at carefully.
The importance of examining third party claims when helping a worker pursue workers’ compensation benefits can’t be overstated. Third party claims permit the recovery of past and future pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish, and loss of income, as well as loss of future income earning capacity. Additionally, spouses of injured employees can file loss of services claims.
These types of damages are not recoverable under workers’ compensation laws, which set forth very limited benefits that an employer must legally pay as a consequence of an employee injury.
Though workers’ compensation benefits are important, and provide a way that employees can hold employers accountable for work-related injuries, lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and others who make products available that are used in the workplace, are a good means of holding responsible every party that is related to an injury connected with a product.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.