Who is at Fault in Heavy Equipment and Machinery Accidents at Work?
In occupations like construction, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, train and rail, petrochemical, trucking, and mining, heavy equipment, large machines, and vehicles are necessary to get the job done. As an employee, you are working with them to build, demolish, restore, and assemble things every single day. Being exposed to this constantly places you at a greater risk for injuries and death.
If you were hurt in a heavy equipment or machinery accident, your entire life changes. Where you were once an able-bodied worker, you are now suffering from injuries, and may need around the clock medical attention, and possibly long-term disability. Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may be able to get back on the job after a few weeks or months of healing. But if you were significantly injured, you may never be able to return to your previous line of work. You may have to pursue an entirely different occupation, or you may never be able to work again. A catastrophic injury could very well result in a permanent disability, placing you in need of more financial compensation in order to enjoy a comfortable quality of life.
Whatever your circumstances after a work-related accident, our Florida Workers Compensation Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience, resources, and skills you need to pursue financial compensation. If you have been hurt or lost a loved one, we can help you fight for what’s fair. First, we will get to know you, investigate the cause of the accident, and help you seek a financial recovery through a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim. Our goal is to obtain the maximum possible compensation for your injury or loss.Who Is Liable for Your Injuries?
Liability in a workers’ compensation claim should be pretty cut and dry: if a worker is performing their normal job duties and suffers an injury in a heavy machinery accident, they should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. It does not matter who is at fault for the accident, however, there are times when another individual or a worker from another company was careless, reckless, or intentional harmful and caused your injury. If a third party was involved in your accident, we can investigate the incident and determine if you have a valid personal injury claim against that person or business. Third parties may include:
General contractor: This person is responsible for providing a safe work environment on a construction site.
Owner of the project site: This is not always your employer, and the owner might be responsible for maintaining a safe work site.
Manufacturer: When machinery and equipment is defective, the manufacturer who produced these products could be liable for your injuries.
Compensation from third parties could cover medical costs, physical pain, mental anguish, physical limitations, disfigurement, and loss of earning capacity.Why Heavy Machinery Accidents Occur
OSHA regulations cover many aspects of heavy machinery operation on construction sites. These regulations provide very specific guidelines for specialized types of cranes, hoists, conveyors, elevators, and other heavy construction equipment. OSHA safety violations have very serious consequences and can lead to significant fines, construction site shutdowns, and civil liability on the part of the developer and construction company.
There are various reasons machinery accidents can occur at construction sites, including supervisors or other workers on the job site do something that is careless, reckless, or negligent, such as:
- Inadequate pre-planning
- Providing a weak structural foundation for construction equipment
- Electrical hazards
- Improper training and experience
- Untrained or incompetent site supervisors or superintendents
- Improper equipment setup
- Incorrect equipment selected for the project
- Workers mishandling equipment
- Defective or poorly maintained equipment
- Violation of safety protocols
Some of the most common types of heavy machinery accidents involve the following:
- Cranes: These are primarily used in construction, warehouses, and manufacturing plants. If these large machines collapse, they can easily injure or kill workers.
- Forklifts: When these malfunction they can bring loads of heavy materials down unexpectedly and crush workers who are nearby. Malfunctioning forklifts can also roll over and maim or kill the forklift operator.
- Bulldozers: These are common on construction sites where heavy loads must be moved from one location to another or the ground needs to be leveled out. If these machines have a defective electrical system, they can injure workers in and out of the vehicle.
- Hoists: This is a device used for lifting or lowering a load. When there is a defect in the hoist, a load can suddenly drop onto workers below.
- Loaders: Front-end loaders must be used under strict safety guidelines to prevent worker injuries. Skid loaders must be built and used properly to avoid rollovers and other injuries to those in the vehicles.
Heavy machinery accidents can crush, pin, choke, entangle, crush, or strike workers or others at the job site. The most Common injuries from heavy machinery accidents include:
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Tissue damage
It is important to note that most heavy machinery accidents are entirely preventable when proper safety guidelines are implemented and followed. Most heavy machinery accidents are preventable when workers and employers follow proper safety guidelines, including:
- Always wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves, face shields, harnesses, hardhats, and steel-toed boots.
- If you are in an area where others may find it difficult to see you, wear reflective clothing.
- Night work should be avoided when workers are fatigued or do not have sufficient lighting to perform their duties.
- Heavy machinery should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis.
- Heavy machinery and equipment should only be used for its intended purpose. Machines are designed for specific duties and not for unrelated work.
Our Florida Workers Compensation Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand your rights after you have been injured at work. We can determine if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and/or if a third party may be liable for your injuries in a free, no-obligation consultation.