Can you receive compensation if faulty or dangerous equipment injures you at work?
Working with heavy machinery can be a dangerous, even deadly, task. In the wrong place at the wrong time, thousands of American workers suffer severe injuries while on the job due to workplace equipment failures or malfunctions.
According to the National Safety Council, contact with dangerous equipment contributes to 25.8 percent of all work-related accidents, with at least 229,400 employees sustaining an injury at an incidence rate of 22.4 per 10,000 full-time employees within the U.S.
If you or someone you know has sustained a workplace injury due to faulty equipment, consider taking legal action. At Gerber & Holder Law, our dedicated Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you file a successful claim and safeguard your best interests in the face of adversity.
Examples of dangerous products & equipment in the workplace
Working in industries that rely on heavy machinery or power tools can significantly increase your risk of sustaining an injury. Sometimes the damage may be so severe that the injured worker is left permanently disabled, rendering them unemployable for the rest of their life.
Unsurprisingly, employees in machine-reliant sectors such as mining, transportation, chemical plants and construction are more likely to get injured by heavy machinery and tools than those in office cubicles. Defective equipment, tools or machinery can create a hazardous situation for workers who regularly rely on these devices to perform their work.
Common examples of dangerous equipment that can lead to workplace injuries include:
- Conveyor belts
- Belt sanders
- Nail guns
- Heavy vehicles
The potential danger of such equipment varies depending on the worker’s interaction with exposed mechanical hazards, such as:
- Wrap points (like rotating shafts)
- Crush points
- Suction points
- Electrical wiring
- Heated components
- Entry points where users feed material to the machine
Any of these components can cause injury in the form of abrasions, electrocution, burns, stabs, puncture wounds and more. Most Georgia workers who suffer an injury due to faulty equipment in the workplace are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits against those liable.
What benefits are available to workers by work equipment?
Georgia workers who sustain work-related injuries may receive financial benefits for their medical treatment and bills throughout their recovery. Workers’ compensation also generally covers additional treatment options, such as physical therapy, if needed.
Even after reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI), workers can obtain continuing medical treatment if their condition might potentially worsen over time. In addition to medical coverage, injured workers may also receive indemnity (lost wage) benefits such as the following:
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
TPD benefits are payable to injured employees who can still work but earn less due to their injury. In Georgia, the maximum payable duration of total disability benefits is 350 weeks, compensating 2/3 of the injured worker’s weekly wage difference.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
PTD benefits are awarded in severe instances where workers have sustained lifelong impairments, such as paralysis, spine damage, brain injury, blindness or amputation. In such a case, disabled workers receive lifelong benefits, covering medical expenses and lost wages.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
TTD benefits are given to employees unable to work due to their recent work injury. As such, workers with mild impairment qualify to receive 2/3 of their weekly salary for about 400 weeks.
How to support your workers’ comp claim
When filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s essential to obtain all medical evidence, including receipts, bills, X-rays, prescription notes and doctor statements. Without these, many insurance companies will try to force you to settle for less.
In addition, your medical practitioner should compile a detailed record stating the severity of your condition, symptoms you experience and how your injury has affected your workability.
When to file a workers’ comp claim and third-party defective product claim
If a worker is injured as a result of faulty equipment in the workplace, they may be able to file a third-party defective product claim in addition to workers’ compensation. However, unlike workers’ compensation benefits, the injured worker must establish fault (liability) in order to receive damages from a third-party.
First, the worker (or their attorney) needs to determine the cause of the equipment malfunction to see if the product manufacturer can be held liable.
In cases where the equipment is proven to have manufacturing defects such as poor design or mechanical issues, even after maintenance, the product manufacturer can be held liable under Georgia product liability law. In this situation, an injured worker may be able to file a third-party defective product claim with the aid of an attorney.
On the other hand, employers also bear a legal obligation to inspect and repair equipment and tools on their premises. Failing to do so might be considered negligence, which can be sufficient to receive additional monetary benefits for damages not traditionally covered by workers’ compensation like pain and suffering.
In rare situations, the manufacturer and employer can both be held liable. For example, if the equipment was manufactured with defects, but the employer chose to utilize it on-site despite its faults, injured workers may file for both claims concurrently.
Choose trusted attorneys for your work injury claim
Dealing with the financial and emotional burden of a workplace injury caused by a defective or dangerous tool can be difficult. At Gerber & Holder Law, we help ensure that all injured Georgia workers receive adequate legal representation and justice so that they can rest easy. Let our team of skilled lawyers help you pursue compensation so that you may receive your rightful benefits from the hands of those responsible.