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Injuries Caused by Product Defects in Industrial Equipment

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 who would like to know their “legal rights following a work injury where they got hurt on an unguarded power saw blade.”

Work injuries can happen due a worker’s carelessness, or that of a co-worker, but they also can be the result of interaction with an item of equipment that is unsafe.

Thousands of workers suffer serious injuries or are killed every year because of defective industrial products.

Sometimes when we are investigating a worker’s compensation case, we find out that a defective industrial product is to blame.

There are many types of industrial products that pose safety concerns. Two categories that come to mind: farming equipment and construction equipment.

We’ve helped people who were injured when a farm tractor they were operating tipped over. At issue: should the product have had a role bar to prevent injury during a tip over.

A case involving construction equipment that comes to mind involved a crane and stabilizing pads that injured a worker when the pads were raised. At issue: a lack of mirrors to enable the operator to see that someone was near the pads when the operator pushed the lever to raise the pads.

When a worker is seriously injured or killed on the job, it is important to look closely at the working environment. Did the machine they were using come equipped with a proper safety guard? Were safety instructions properly posted on a easily visible label on the machine?

Sometimes we find that an industrial product had a safety guard on it when it was sold, but that a third person removed the guard.

Does interference with the machine by a third person who removed the safety guard let the manufacturer of the hook? Not necessarily, if the machine should have been equipped with a safety interlock which would have prevented the machine from operating.

Why is all this information important? Because, if a product causes an on-the-job injury, a product liability suit may be brought against the product’s manufacturer.

A large number of injuries, deaths and amputations have been prevented because a lawsuit helped lead to changes in otherwise defective products found in the work place. Those changes can mean new safety protocols and standards.

Lawsuits indirectly 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.

In turn the people who make the products, in order to avoid future lawsuits, change their products to make them safer. This is how the free market system works.

Here is a simple way to look at the process.

The very first airplane flown by Orville and Wilbur Wright had no safety equipment at all.

After years and years of design and redesign airplanes now are sold equipped with all types of safety equipment.

Some of that safety equipment was developed by engineers just trying to make the product safer.

Some safety equipment is due to the pressure of government regulation.

Still other items of safety equipment are due to lawsuits.

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”.