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The Law Office of Carlos L. Williams

Can I Sue Both My Employer and an Equipment or Machinery Manufacturer After Being Injured At Work?

According to the National Safety Council, injuries from equipment and machinery accidents consist of 25% of all workplace accidents. Construction sites and industrial workplaces are filled with dangerous heavy equipment and machinery. Even hand tools can cause severe injuries or even fatalities. Severe injuries are going to result in overwhelming medical bills, lengthy recovery periods and partial or complete disability.

Workers’ Compensation

The general rule in all 50 states is that workers’ compensation benefits are an injured employee’s sole and exclusive remedy after being injured in the course and scope of his or her employment. Those benefits include the following:

  • Reasonable medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
  • Replacement of a percentage of the employee’s average weekly wage during any period of temporary total disability.
  • A lump sum award for any permanent partial disability.

When Workers’ Compensation Benefits Might Be Insufficient

Benefits like medical treatment and average weekly wage replacement are almost immediate after being injured in a work-related accident, even if an employee was injured as a result of their own carelessness and negligence. In return for workers’ compensation benefits, state laws protect employers from lawsuits by injured employees. What comes to issue is the fact that for severe or catastrophic work-related injuries, workers’ compensation benefits might not even be close to being enough.

Third Party Liability

After suffering a work-related injury from heavy equipment or machinery, it’s especially important for the victim to speak with an experienced and effective personal injury lawyer. States have different laws and regulations when pursuing legal action involving workers compensation and third parties.

For example, in Kentucky the employee is allowed to pursue compensation from either worker’s compensation or the third-party company, but not both. Kaufman and Stigger, PLLC explains that this means is that when a construction worker is killed at work because of another company’s fault, then the surviving family can choose either getting the worker’s compensation death benefits from the employer’s WC, or suing the third party for the damages.

If you sue the third party and received any benefits from WC, then those would have to be paid back to the WC insurance company.

Dangerously Defective Equipment and Machinery

Product liability law involves who can be held liable for injuries or fatalities that are caused by dangerously defective equipment or machinery. Under the law of product liability, any entity from a manufacturer down to a retailer can be held liable. The three basic types of product defects involve the following:

  • Design Defects: These come from the drawing board and plans. When there is a design defect, all of the products in the line are defective.
  • Manufacturing Defects: These occur during the manufacturing process. Only a few of the products are defective.
  • Marketing Defects: These occur when a product has insufficient instructions or warnings.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Damages in personal injury cases can be economic or non-economic in nature. Economic damages like medical bills have a price tag on them. They’re objective and easily calculated. Non-economic damages are subjectively perceived by the accident victim, so they’re difficult to calculate. They might consist of the following:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Diminished enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse.

Employers are shielded by statute from paying non-economic damages in workers’ compensation cases. The law of product liability allows a jury to consider such damages. That increases the likelihood of making the product liability case significantly more valuable than the workers’ compensation case.

Medical Bill Reimbursement

While you are weighing your legal options, your physical comfort and wellbeing should be your top priority.  Your injury might require lengthy hospital stays, expensive medications, and home remedies (such as turmeric, which has some impressive health benefits). Whatever your treatment path entails, be sure to keep all of your bills and receipts for potential future reimbursement.

Carlos L. Williams

About the Author Carlos Williams & Associates, PLLC is a firm that services the Oklahoma
community. Over the years, we have demonstrated our skills and expertise
as a leading single source for legal support throughout Oklahoma.

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