The term “industrial accident” can cover a wide range of mishaps on the job that have caused injury. Defined broadly, it is any accident on the job that causes an injury. This is a widely encompassing term that includes many different types of injuries. The consistent element between all of the cases in this area is that employers owe an obligation to their employees to provide them with a safe working environment.
They must follow all rules to this effect and when employees are injured in industrial accidents as a result of the employer’s actions, they may be entitled to financial compensation. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we are experienced attorneys with a long track record of successfully helping industrial accident victims and their families. Contact us to learn about your legal options if you have been injured in an industrial accident.
What is an Industrial Accident?
An industrial accident is any accident that occurs in a work environment where an employee is injured. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration defines a work environment as "the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work."
An industrial accident is caused by either an unsafe environment or unsafe acts. Here are some examples of an unsafe environment:
- The employee is given defective equipment on which to work. This could mean that a piece of factory equipment is missing a safety guard.
- A workplace may be lacking in adequate safety protections. An example of this is a construction jobsite that lacks adequate fall protections.
- There could be a gas leakage that employees do not know about, causing an explosion when it is ignited.
Here are some examples of unsafe acts that can cause industrial accidents:
- The employee can be sent to fix a machine or a piece of industrial equipment while it is still running causing them to be crushed or suffer severe injuries to their extremities.
- Someone driving a forklift may not see another employee and may either run them over or dump a load on them.
- A company can direct employees to work in an area with an unsafe condition placing them at risk.
Statistics About Industrial Accidents
While U.S. workplaces are getting safer, it does not help if it was you or your loved one who was hurt. Even one injury or fatality is too much, especially if it has impacted your family. An average of 5,000 workers are killed on the job each year. Roughly one in five of these deaths occurs in the construction industry. After the construction industry, the waste management industry is also one with a high number of deaths. Beyond that, factory workers are at risk due to the possibility that they could either be forced to work in unsafe conditions or the equipment on which they are working could malfunction.
Different Types of Industrial Accidents
When it comes to construction accidents, OSHA terms the most common causes of serious injury as the “Fatal Four.” These are:
- Falls – This is the highest percentage of construction deaths when a worker falls to from a height such as a ladder, scaffolding or even off of a roof.
- Caught in – This occurs when a worker is trapped or compressed in between equipment or objects.
- Struck by Objects – Workers can be hit by falling debris on a jobsite
- Electrocution – Workers can come into contact with overhead power lines or be unaware of the presence of electric utilities when they are digging into the ground.
These are just some of the major types of accidents that can cause fatalities in the construction setting. In the factory context, there are many different types of additional accidents that can occur. For example, a worker can fall into a machine. One common type of industrial accident is when a worker has their hand or their body part trapped inside of moving equipment. When that happens, they will often lose a limb or the use of that limb. In a more extreme case, they can fall entirely into that machine and can die.
Industrial Accident Injuries
Industrial injuries can range from minor to severe. It is the serious injuries that will not only cause grave bodily damage. Here are some of the serious injuries that can happen as a result of an industrial accident:
- Loss of the use of a limb or an amputation
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Injuries to the neck and back that may require surgery
- Paralysis (either quadriplegic or paraplegic)
- Wrongful death
These injuries will cause one pain and suffering and can also cause damage to the family in the form of loss of companionship and consortium. All of these are compensable in an industrial accident lawsuit.
Possible Damages From an Industrial Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in an industrial accident, the costs to your family may be considerable. The family likely needs the injured person’s salary to put the roof over their head and food on the table. Without that, they will experience long-term financial distress. In addition, there may be a variety of other costs. An industrial accident settlement or jury award can help make you or your family whole for the injury that has been suffered. Here is some of what may be compensable in an industrial accident:
- Medical Expenses – Anything that has been paid out of pocket can be reimbursed. If the insurance has paid out money, they will be paid out of your settlement or award.
- Costs of Care – Some injuries are severe enough that the injured person will need medical and other assistance in the future. The amount that will be necessary to care for them will be a part of the damages phase of the trial.
- Lost Earnings – Both past and future earnings may be recovered in an industrial accident lawsuit. Whether the plaintiff can work again and how much they would have earned is often an issue when a case reaches a jury.
- Pain and Suffering – Those who are injured can be compensated for pain and suffering both in the past and the future.
OSHA requires generally employers to provide their employees with a safe workplace. OSHA has very detailed regulations that lay out specific requirements for employers. Here are some example of OSHA rules that protect employees from workplace injury:
- Workers must receive adequate training to do their job safety.
- Workers must receive the proper safety equipment to protect them on the job.
- Employers must provide workers with adequate fall protection measures.
- You must be protected from toxic chemicals in the workplace.
These are just some of the OSHA rules. In reality, there are pages upon pages of these rules that your employer must follow. If they are cited for not following OSHA rules in the incident that injured you or your loved one, it can be evidence that they were negligent.
How an Industrial Accident Lawyer can Help
Many times, industrial accident lawsuit outcomes will depend closely on the facts of your case. One of the arguments that a defendant will always try to put forward is that the plaintiff was responsible for their own injury. If the court accepts that, it could reduce your compensation. Your industrial accident lawyer will show how the accident was not your fault or, if you had any responsibility, it was minimal and small.
In addition, a key part of your case will be proving the damages so that you can get top dollar for your lawsuit. This will often be sharply disputed during a case. Your lawyer will make the case that you have lost money by not working and that your pain and suffering deserves compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an industrial accident, turn to the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for help with a possible legal claim against the person responsible for your injuries. We will help you from start to finish of your case, including if the case goes to trial. Let us put our extensive experience to work for you to get you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
How Much is my Industrial Injury Case Worth?
While there are many factors that contribute to the value of your industrial injury case such as: medical expenses, lost income, pain and disability (only mention if not mentioned earlier on the page) the cases below will hopefully give you some insight into how these cases are valued by juries, lawyers and insurance companies. While these cases can be instructive, they should not be conclusive in valuing your particular situation.
Plaintiff Verdict for $3.38 million in Florida (2018) – The plaintiff was working in a factory and using an industrial wrapping machine to insulate wire. The plaintiff’s hand was sucked into the machine causing severe nerve damage to the hand. The plaintiff claims that they can no longer grasp things with their hand. The lawsuit claimed that the machine lacked a safety guard that would have prevented the injury and was filed in part against the manufacturer of the safety machine. The jury found that the employer bore 77 percent of the responsibility because its policies encouraged unsafe operation of the machine.
Plaintiff Verdict for $30 million in California (2018) – This was a wrongful death case. The decedent was working at a factory and was caught in a cone crusher machine that was intended to crush asphalt and was asphyxiated. The lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of the portable cone crusher because the machine lacked an emergency stop mechanism. The estate also sued the employer because the employer allegedly knew of the hazard and still continued to run the machine notwithstanding the danger. The machine manufacturer was found to be 70 percent liable for the accident.
Settlement for $7.6 million in New Jersey (2018) – The plaintiff was an assembly line worker who was welding a 300 pound door frame. A crane was flipping the door onto its other side for welding as part of a “side loading process” when the load fell from the crane and hit the plaintiff in the neck. The door fell because the latch was loose. The plaintiff suffered a burst cervical fracture and became a quadriplegic as a result of his injuries. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant was negligent both because the side loading process was dangerous and because the door had a broken safety latch.
Settlement for $23 million in Illinois (2013) – The plaintiff was attempting to clear a paper jam out of a paper baler. The plaintiff entered into the chute which feeds the baler from above and was attempting to use his body weight to clear out the jam. The lawsuit alleged that there was not adequate fall protection and he fell into the baler. He lost both of his legs in the accident and suffered from chronic sores at his amputation sites. The lawsuit claimed that the employer violated OSHA safety rules by not adequately training the plaintiff ahead of time. The lawsuit also claimed that the plaintiff previously had almost fallen before but was caught by a co-worker, yet the employer did not enhance the safety protections.
Plaintiff Verdict for $5.6 million in Indiana (2012) – The plaintiff was a factory employee who was working on a corrugated paper manufacturing line. His hand got pulled into rollers of a compression conveyor all the way up to his wrist. He suffered permanent injuries to his wrist and he had several fingers amputated as a result of the accident. The lawsuit was against the manufacturer for selling a machine without adequate safety precautions and the employer for not properly training employees in the use of the machine. The jury awarded the plaintiff $ 8 million but that was reduced because the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident by improperly using the equipment.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2.73 million in New Jersey (2013) – There was an accident at an aircraft parts foundry. An unfired pressure, which was 30-year old, exploded. Several workers were injured and one was killed. The lawsuit claimed that the unfired pressure vessel was not properly registered and that the employer allowed untrained and uncertified employees to perform maintenance and welding on the vessel for ten years.
Settlement for $1.06 million in New Jersey (2008) – The plaintiff was a maintenance worker at a factory. He observed a leak in a gas filter housing. When he went to check the leak and locate the source, static electricity caused an explosion. He suffered serious second and third degree burns in the explosion. The lawsuit claimed that the employer failed to follow the applicable OSHA safety regulation by failing to train the workers in how to properly handle gas line. The plaintiff also claimed that the manufacturer of the gas line failed to provide proper operating instructions.
Settlement for $200,000 in Illinois (2018) – The plaintiff was working on a construction site and was chipping away brick from a wall while in a boom lift basket. Several cinder blocks that were on top of the wall fell and struck him, causing unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit claimed that a professional engineer should have surveyed the jobsite to ensure the condition of the building but that the structural integrity was not verified by the engineer.
Plaintiff Verdict for $778,451 in Texas (2018) – The plaintiff was trying to run a power cord along the top of a fence that was built by the defendant for the purpose of corralling livestock at an auction. A gate fell to the ground and landed directly on top of the plaintiff causing serious unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant failed to inspect and secure the gate that had landed on top of him. The defendant countered that it had no way of knowing that the plaintiff would attempt to work on top of the fence when the defendant was not in the area. The court reduced the verdict due to the fault of the plaintiff.
Plaintiff Verdict for $4.8 million in Texas (2018) – The plaintiffs were driving in separate vehicles through a construction zone on a highway. There was a mobile crane on the worksite that was lifting a highway sign. The crane tipped over and fell on the plaintiffs’ vehicle. One of the vehicles was trapped beneath a power line. Both plaintiffs suffered serious injuries. The lawsuit claimed that the crane operator negligently operated unsafe equipment and that the operator failed to keep a proper lookout.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2,847,500 in California (2018) – The plaintiff was walking to his job as an electrician at a construction site. The plaintiff fell into an unmarked ditch on the property and suffered serious unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit claimed that the defendants should have marked where the ditch was and blocked it off. As a result, the defendant allegedly created an unsafe worksite.
Plaintiff Verdict for $18,534,523 in Texas (2016) – The plaintiffs were working at a petrochemical plant. There was an explosion at the plant that occurred when a reboiler became overpressurized. Two people died in the explosion and several others were injured. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit suffered severe injuries. The lawsuit claimed that the company that owned the plant was aware of the possible dangers associated with an expansion project yet kept the plant in operation nonetheless. The jury found that one of the defendants knew with substantial certainty that the accident would occur.
Consult With an Industrial Accident Attorney Today
Let the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers help you with your industrial accident injury lawsuit. Call us today to begin the process of filing your claim for compensation.