Machinery safety standards are among OSHA’s top 10 most frequently violated codes, leading to countless machinery accident injuries. Manufacturers of tools and heavy equipment have an obligation to ensure their products are dependable and free of defects, and employers must follow the rules to ensure workplace safety.
This article aims to help people understand workplace machinery accidents and the process of filing a lawsuit for one. At Sadaka Law, we believe in using the power of the law to hold people responsible for their actions and negligence.
What Is a Machinery Accident?
Most people envision construction sites or factories when thinking of machinery accidents, but accidents can occur in a variety of workplaces. Tools and machines are found in restaurants, hotels, schools, and offices and can do just as much damage as the ones used for construction or manufacturing.
Machinery accidents happen when there’s a defect in the equipment or a lack of training in its safety features. Examples of common accidents include:
- Getting pinned underneath a machine
- Falling off of equipment
- Getting limbs caught in machinery
- Being struck by a piece of equipment
Types of Injuries from Machinery Accidents
When there’s a breakdown in safety protocols or an unexpected problem with a machine, the resulting injuries can be devastating. In 2020, there were 4,746 fatal work accidents in the U.S., and 82 of them happened in New Jersey. Private construction and contracting companies had the highest number of fatalities in the state.
Injuries that we see in machinery accidents include the following:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Burns and smoke inhalation
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
When a worker gets injured or loses their life on the job, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance can cover the medical bills, disability, and death benefits. However, if the tool or machine involved in the injury was defective, you can pursue damages from the manufacturer through a product liability claim.
The Three Causes of Product Liability Machinery Accidents
To file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective machine, we must provide evidence of a design defect, manufacturing defect, or a failure to warn of the product’s risks.
At Sadaka Law, we recruit engineering and design experts to pinpoint the machinery accident’s cause. Our goal is to use the evidence we find to obtain fair compensation for the worker’s losses.
A machine has a design defect if it has an inherent safety issue that the manufacturers could have avoided by using a better design. This means that every product with that design has the same problem.
A manufacturing defect results from an error in the production or assembly of the equipment. The flaw could be inadequate materials or a mistake when assembling the machine. The error could affect one specific machine or a whole batch of the product.
Failure to Warn
Also known as a “failure to instruct,” this cause stems from a lack of information about the machine’s safety features and risks. If the manufacturer, retailer, or employer didn’t provide the information necessary to run the machine safely, they could be liable for the resulting damages.
Are Employers Liable for Workplace Machinery Accidents?
Your employer could be liable for a machinery accident if they neglected to ensure the safety of their employees. Careless, cost-cutting actions that employers might take include:
- Using substandard materials or equipment
- Skipping regular maintenance
- Removing safeguards to speed up production
- Failing to supply protective gear (safety goggles, gloves, etc.)
- Neglecting to train machinery operators
The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance typically pays the damages to an injured worker. However, if your employer committed any of the above intentional actions that led to your injury, you could pursue compensatory and punitive damages against them.
Finding the evidence to prove your employer’s negligence is crucial, which is where a skilled lawyer can help you. Our attorneys help clients find proof that supports their claim, allowing them to get maximum compensation for their injury.
Can You File a Lawsuit for Machinery Accidents Caused by Negligence?
As we mentioned in the previous sections, you have a few options for filing a lawsuit for a machinery accident. If the accident happened because of an equipment defect, you could be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer for the mistake.
However, it’s the employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe work environment with properly trained machine operators. You could file a lawsuit against your employer if they intentionally endangered you. Since the claim is a liability issue, it would be separate from workers’ compensation.
You have two years from the date of the accident to file a liability claim, so it’s critical to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you experience a machinery accident at work. Legal procedures are notoriously convoluted, but our law firm can help you with the process so you don’t lose the opportunity to recover your losses.
How Much Compensation Can I Get from a Machinery Accident?
The amount of compensation you can obtain from a machinery accident lawsuit depends on the extent of your injuries and the applicable damages. The liable party could be subject to payment for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, including:
- Medical expenses (hospital stay, surgery, rehabilitation, etc.)
- Lost income due to time off work
- Loss of earning capacity due to disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
If the manufacturer was aware of the defect that caused your injury and didn’t take steps to rectify their mistake, the court might order them to pay punitive damages on top of your losses. Punitive damages serve as punishment for intentionally heinous actions to discourage the liable party from doing the same in the future.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will cover economic damages, but non-economic and punitive damages result from liability claims. An experienced machinery accident lawyer can investigate your case’s liability to determine whether your employer or the product’s manufacturer is responsible for your losses.
What to Do if You Are in a Machinery Accident
Workplace accidents involving machinery can cause severe injuries and permanent disability. Safety should always come first at work, but accidents sometimes happen even if you do everything right. If you are ever involved in a machinery accident, we recommend you follow these crucial steps:
- Step 1: Seek medical attention immediately. Your health is the top priority, and you should receive treatment right away, even if it’s not an emergency. Documenting your injuries is also crucial evidence for your case.
- Step 2: Contact a lawyer for advice. Workers’ compensation and legal procedures are complicated, but a professional can help recover your losses while you focus on getting better.
- Step 3: Follow through with recovery. You should receive all necessary treatment for your injury even if your case is still pending.
- Step 4: Return to work only if your physician clears you. Many workers become anxious to go back to work after being gone, but it’s in your best interest to heal and return when ready. Workers’ compensation covers lost income due to absence or disability.
- Step 5: Consult with your attorney if you have any questions or concerns. If you feel your case is dragging, your lawyer can help you check on its progress and get the ball rolling.
If you’re pursuing a liability claim, your lawyer will work to build a solid case against the negligent party. Otherwise, they can assist you in navigating the often overwhelming process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Even if the State of New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation unfairly denies your claim, we can fight it by filing an appeal.
Sadaka Law Helps Injured Workers in New Jersey
Whether you’ve been in a machinery accident or other workplace mishap, our lawyers at Sadaka Law will fight for your rights, including fair compensation for your losses. We believe in fearlessly pursuing justice for our clients, which means we’ll take on powerful companies in court if necessary.