What Injured Workers Should Know About Products Liability?
October 29, 2021
Most employees who are injured on the job know that they can file for Workers’ Compensation to cover their medical bills and a portion of their lost wages. While these benefits help, they do not pay for all lost wages, nor do they compensate for pain and suffering.
Many workers are unaware that they may also be entitled to other sources of compensation. If their accident was caused by machinery and equipment, injured workers may be able to file a third-party products liability claim against manufacturers, resellers, or distributors of the defective equipment that caused their injuries.
Workers should know that defective equipment might be the true cause of their accident, even if they blamed themselves. That is because the equipment provided to workers must be safe to use.
Workers should also know that products liability law allows them to sue anyone involved in the manufacturing chain that made the defective product. Workers should contact a qualified lawyer to learn about their rights to file a third-party claim after a work-related accident.
Who Is Responsible for injuries Caused by Defective Products or Equipment?
Products or equipment that are not safe to use are considered defective. Those held responsible for injuries caused by defective products or equipment include but are not limited to the following:
- Manufacturers who design or produce defective products.
- Manufacturers who design or produce defective component parts.
- Distributors or others who modify products for resale and render them unsafe or defective.
- Companies that assemble or install defective products.
- Wholesalers, sellers, or resellers who are involved in placing the defective product into the hands of the employer or consumer.
Any or all of these parties may be held legally responsible and be required to pay full and fair damages to an injured worker if the defective equipment caused the accident.
What Equipment Defects Cause Workplace Accidents?
There are many types of equipment defects that may cause workplace accidents, including but not limited to the following:
- Inadequately guarded machinery
- Forklifts or other vehicles lacking safety features, such as flashing lights, grab handles, or presence-detection systems
- Improperly designed or welded parts
- Defective scaffolding
- Lack of features that automatically stop the operation of power tools
- Lack of lockout/tagout systems
According to the National Safety Council, 10 to 15 percent of all industrial injuries are caused by inadequately guarded or unguarded machinery. These are probably the most common and well-known type of products liability cases. However, defective or unsafe personal protective equipment of other types have been found to have caused workplace accidents.
Are There Different Types of Products Liability Lawsuits?
When a worker is injured due to defective equipment, the type of products liability claims they can file will depend on how they were injured. There are several types of products liability lawsuits, including the following:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Installation defects
- Warning defects
Manufacturers, wholesalers, resellers, and distributors may be held strictly liable for any one of these defects, no matter where they stand in the chain of distribution.
How Can a Products Liability Lawyer Help Injured Workers?
A products liability lawyer can help an injured worker by pointing out all of their rights under the law. Next, a lawyer can investigate all facts and circumstances surrounding the work-related accident to determine whether defective equipment caused or contributed to a worker’s injuries. If that is the case, a lawyer can then trace the chain of distribution to identify all of the parties who may be held liable for paying damages to the injured worker. A lawyer will also help an injured worker calculate the true cost of their injuries, which may include the following:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of potential future income
- Pain and suffering
- Other expenses, such as paying caregivers, housekeepers, or making modifications to a home to accommodate disabilities
If defective equipment is shown to have caused or contributed to a workplace accident, a lawyer can help injured workers by filing a third-party claim against the negligent parties.
Will Filing a Third-Party Claim Affect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Filing a third-party claim against manufacturers, distributors, or resellers of defective equipment will not affect Workers’ Compensation benefits. Injured workers who have questions about this can contact a qualified lawyer.
Since 1947, our lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have pursued and won difficult cases on behalf of workers who were seriously injured on the job. Our goal is to preserve the benefits due to them from Workers’ Compensation while also protecting their rights to filing additional claims.
In many instances, the injuries suffered by workers are directly caused by defects in the equipment they rely upon day in and day out to do their jobs. The following cases illustrate how our lawyers were able to hold multiple third-parties liable for damages due to injuries caused by defective equipment:
- $10.65 million settlement for defective tank that fatally burned worker and injured co-worker. A maintenance worker responsible for checking the level of acid in an above ground storage tank slipped fell on a discharge valve at the bottom of the tank. Sulfuric acid escaped, fatally burning him and severely burning a co-worker. An investigation by Galfand Berger LLP revealed negligence on the part of the general contractor who improperly installed the tank, as well as subcontractors who ignored the tank manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that all connections for the tank’s discharge lines were independently supported. We also sued the tank manufacturer for supplying a discharge pipe made of PVC instead of stainless steel, making the tank defective and unsafe.
- $2.4 million-dollar settlement for a worker who was seriously injured when a support boom broke due to inferior welding. The worker fell 30 feet to the ground and fractured his lumbar vertebrae. We established that several different companies were liable for their roles in designing, manufacturing, assembling, and checking the support boom. Both the designer and boom manufacturer ignored testing reports showing structural problems in the boom components. A service company responsible for checking the booms on a monthly basis failed to find the problem and was also liable. The settlement was achieved on the first day of trial.
Defective equipment and products harm many workers and consumers every day. Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers often put profit ahead of safety concerns, despite their responsibility to produce and sell goods that are safe to use. Anyone who is injured by an unsafe product has the right to file a products liability lawsuit to seek recovery of damages.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Protect the Rights of Workers Injured by Faulty Products
If you have been seriously injured on the job, contact our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We can help you determine if you have a valid products liability claim and the right to seek additional damages beyond just Workers’ Compensation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.