Working with industrial equipment can be dangerous. Injuries from industrial equipment accidents range in severity and the treatment required for recovery. An injury will undoubtedly result in medical expenses. There may be time lost from work due to doctor visits and rehabilitation. In the most severe cases, employees are unable to return to work at all.
The most common types of industrial injuries include:
- Neck, Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
- Injuries to the Eye
- Head Injuries
What Are Common Causes of Industrial Equipment Injuries?
When discussing causes of industrial equipment injuries, consider the following:
- Burns can result if a piece of equipment overheats or catches on fire.
- Employers who fail to offer safe lifting and machine moving alternatives put workers at risk for permanent muscular, orthopedic, and nerve damage.
- Eye protection is critical for eye safety. If your employer is not providing adequate eye protection you may have a case for negligence if you are hurt.
- The human skull is not capable of absorbing the impact of heavy industrial equipment. Minor “dings” to the head can carry serious consequences. You may have a serious head injury if you have loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, or chronic headaches.
- Amputations and severed limbs can be the most severe and life-changing types of injuries. They most often happen when an employee is working near the moving parts of heavy machinery during the following:
- Machine setup
- Machine maintenance
- Changing parts
- Cleaning machines
- Oiling machines
- Clearing machinery jams
- Death. Sadly, injuries caused by industrial equipment accidents can result in death. Any of the injuries described above could result in loss of life: for example, burns can become infected, head injuries can lead to coma and then death.
What is Industrial Equipment?
Industrial equipment often involves heat, power, weights, and speeds that are not often found in common consumer products. Industrial equipment includes machinery and gear that is used for commercial purposes.
These can include a variety of types of equipment, such as:
Who Can be Held Liable for an Industrial Equipment Injury?
There are several parties who can cause and be held liable for industrial equipment injuries. Parties that can be held liable for industrial equipment injuries and accidents may include:
- The operators of the machinery
- Instructors who teach how to use the machinery
- Employers or managers of a
- Owners or providers of the equipment
- Manufacturers and distributors of the industrial equipment (especially if there is a product defect)
Can I Recover Damages for an Industrial Equipment Injury?
It is possible to recover damages in some cases of injury. There are two principal legal theories by which you can recover damages for an injury:
- Someone acted negligently
- A company is charged with strict liability
What is Negligence?
Negligence is the legal theory that allows injured persons to recover for the carelessness of others. A person is negligent if they were careless given the circumstances of the situation.
Negligence has four major parts that must exist in order to recover for injuries: Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.
A duty is a responsibility one person owes to another. In general, people going about their business owe a duty of ‘reasonable care.’ ‘Reasonable care’ is the care an ordinary and prudent person would use in the same situation. An example would be a driver on the road: they have a duty to drive carefully enough so they do not cause an accident.
Breach occurs when an individual’s actions fall below the care level required by their duty. Perhaps it was raining and the defendant should have been driving at or below the posted speed limit, but was actually going 10 miles over and became unable to stop in time to avoid an accident. In this example, the defendant breached the duty of using reasonable care when driving an automobile.
The breach of duty must be the actual and the proximate cause of the injury. “Actual” means that the defendant’s actions were the real cause of the accident or injury. “Proximate” means that “but for” the defendant’s lack of care, the accident would not have occurred.
Some sort of harm must have occurred. Most often, these are financial damages. In the case of an industrial injury, the damages could include medical expenses, loss of pay due to missing days of work, an award for pain and suffering, etc.
Are There Any Defenses to Negligence?
There are a number of defenses to an allegation of negligence. The most obvious is to dispute any of the components of negligence (meaning duty, breach, causation, or damages).
Two related defenses are contributory and comparative negligence. Depending on state law, one or the other will apply, but the general idea is the same. Both defenses ask whether the person injured is in some way responsible for the injury they suffered. In contributory negligence jurisdictions, any lack of care by the plaintiff is a total bar to recovery (meaning they get nothing). In a comparative negligence jurisdiction, the injured person can still recover, but the recovery is reduced by how negligent they themselves were.
Another theory by which you could recover for an industrial accident is “strict liability.” This is a way to hold the manufacturer of any equipment liable for harm caused by defects in the equipment.
A product manufacturer is in the position of earning and keeping the public’s trust. In the eyes of the law, they have set themselves up to create and sell a product that users should be able to use and not worry about being injured. A product manufacturer who betrays that trust and creates a dangerous product, even unintentionally, can sometimes be held liable for any injuries that result.
An example could be if a company makes football shoulder pads that break in half the first time they are hit in a game; the company could be held strictly liable for any shoulder injuries that occur.
In order to win a strict liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must show the following:
- The plaintiff must show proof of injury;
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions or product caused the injury
- The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s product was unreasonably hazardous or dangerous
What Damages Can Be Awarded?
Depending on the nature of your injury, you may recover various losses. In general, most persons can recover the following financial costs concerning an industrial equipment injury claim:
- Medical costs, such as hospital fees and prescription medication costs
- Work-related costs, such as worker’s compensation benefits
- Lost wages, if the injury caused the person to lose work hours (may also include loss of future earnings)
- Punitive damages, if the injuries were caused intentionally (not available for all cases)
- Damages associated with pain and suffering
What Type of Evidence Do I Need to File an Industrial Equipment Lawsuit?
If you have suffered an injury while working with industrial equipment, take the following steps to make sure that you have enough evidence to satisfy a claim:
- Record all important information related to the injury or accident: the date when the injury occurred, the circumstances that gave rise to the injury, who was involved, etc. Be sure to make notes about how the injury has affected your life
- If there were witnesses, interview them to obtain any testimony and information. Witnesses’ memories will fade over time, so it’s best to collect information as soon as possible.
- Be sure to keep and make photocopies of all medical documents related to the injury
- Keep track of all expenses you incur related to injury
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Industrial Equipment Injury Lawsuit?
Legal claims and lawsuits for an industrial equipment injury can be complex. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need any help with an injury claim.
Your attorney can provide you with the legal guidance, research, and representation needed to succeed on your claim.