Who Is Responsible if My Hand Injury Was Caused by a Power Tool at Work?
December 26, 2023
About 400,000 people go to the emergency room every year because of power tools. Construction workers and employees in manufacturing industries rely heavily on power tools. When a power tool is defective or used without proper instruction or warning, it can cause severe and life-altering injuries.
Hand injuries are one of the most common injuries when a power tool or other industrial equipment is defective. Hand injuries can render you completely unable to work. These injuries can range from minor cuts and scrapes to more severe fractures and lacerations. In some cases, a hand may be amputated.
Workers’ Compensation may cover your medical bills and some of your lost wages if your hand injury was caused by a power tool at work. You also maintain the right to sue third parties that may also be liable. Possible third parties include a negligent manufacturer, installer, or the equipment owner responsible for maintaining the tool.
Which Power Tools Are the Most Dangerous?
Power tools have moving parts and an electrical power source, which automatically puts workers at risk. Many construction workers are required to use dangerous power tools on the job every day. If the power tool is defective or negligently maintained, accidents with painful and debilitating injuries can happen.
Dangerous power tools include:
- Chainsaws: Chainsaws are one of the most dangerous and deadly power tools. Workers involved in chainsaw accidents can suffer amputations, fatal injuries, and extensive damages.
- Table saws: Table saws have sharp blades that spin over 3,000 times per minute. This powerful piece of equipment accounts for tens of thousands of injuries in the U.S. each year, including severe lacerations and amputations.
- Nail guns: Nail guns may reduce hours of tedious construction work, but they are extremely dangerous when defective or used without proper personal protective equipment.
- Circular saws: Circular saws carry the same dangers as table saws. The force behind this power tool should never be underestimated, and it can cause deadly accidents and severe hand injuries.
- Riding lawn mowers: A defective lawn mower can cause accidents with life-changing repercussions. This type of powerful and heavy equipment can roll over, run over the rider or another person’s extremities, and travel over rocks or other objects, turning them into hazardous projectiles.
What Are Common Injuries Caused by Power Tools?
Despite taking safety measures, even the most experienced construction workers can suffer severe injuries if a power tool is defective. Power tools with faulty shut-off devices or lacking adequate safety guards can leave workers and their families with devastating consequences. Many injuries caused by power tools lead to lifelong physical, emotional, and financial strain.
Some common injuries caused by power tools include:
- Hand injuries
- Foot injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Eye injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Burn injuries
- Hearing loss
- Crush injuries
- Lung damage
- Bone fractures
Who Is Liable if I Was Injured by a Power Tool at Work?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a safety regulation manual for employers regarding properly using power tools and training workers. When operating power tools, employers must also provide workers with protective gear, such as goggles or respirators.
Manufacturers and distributors of power tools also have duty to warn and protect people who use their products from potential risks of injury that could be prevented by proper safeguards or improved warnings and instructions. Manufacturers and distributors must include adequate instructions and warnings both for the safe operation and the risks of injury associated with use of the product. As with other products, power tools can be recalled for various reasons.
Third parties who can be held liable in power tool injury claims include:
- Maintenance companies: Many employers hire outside individuals or companies to be in charge of maintaining power tools, including inspecting, cleaning, lubricating, and sharpening them. Maintenance companies must exercise reasonable care in performing these activities to ensure that the equipment is in a safe condition to use and also avoid any activity that makes the equipment unsafe, such as bypassing a safety device, when performing maintenance activities.
- Manufacturers: Manufacturers of power tools are held to certain standards for safe product design, manufacture, and installation of their products. They must also provide proper instructions for safe use and warnings of potential hazards.
- Distributors: Distributors and sellers can also be held responsible for a worker’s injury caused by a defective and dangerous power tool. Retailers can also face a third-party liability claim if someone is injured by a product they sold.
What Should I Do if I Was Injured by a Power Tool at Work?
The first moments after any kind of accident can be shocking and stressful. The first thing you must do is seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 if you can, or make sure someone nearby does so that you receive necessary emergency medical care.
Other important steps to take after suffering a power tool injury at work include:
- Report the accident to your employer and keep documentation of the notification. Write an e-mail or text your report so you have documentation.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, the power tool, and your physical injuries, if possible, or ask someone else to take photographs for you
- Maintain copies of the accident report and records of medical treatment received.
- Contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and best interests.
What Compensation Can I Recover for a Power Tool Injury?
Power tool injuries are often severe and life-changing. Hand injuries, in particular, can require multiple surgeries, extensive medical treatment, and physical therapy. Not only are these injuries physically painful, they typically result in costly medical bills and time missed from work.
Compensation you may be eligible for after suffering a power tool injury include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- Physical and occupational therapies
- Mental health treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Decreased enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
How Can a Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyer Help Me With My Case?
If you were seriously injured by a power tool due to someone else’s negligence or a defective product, you need legal protection. Injuries sustained from working with a dangerous power tool have the potential to be permanent and financially devastating.
Our legal team can help you in the following ways:
- Thoroughly investigate the accident.
- Identify negligent parties.
- Gather evidence and interview eyewitnesses.
- Review the accident report and your medical records.
- Work with a team of medical and industry experts.
- File all claims in a timely manner.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and opposing parties.
- Be prepared to argue your case at trial when appropriate.
- Fight for the best possible resolution for your case.
Galfand Berger LLP has a long-standing history of recovering significant financial awards for clients injured by dangerous and defective equipment. Some of our past cases:
- $2.25 million jury verdict for employee’s hand injuries: Our client worked with a mixing machine for processing dog food. Our client put his hand into the mixing chamber to remove a jam, thinking the machine was off. When his hand came in contact with the blade, it was nearly He suffered several severe injuries. We argued that there was a failure to provide an interlock discharge door equipped with a jog switch and a failure to warn. We won a verdict for $2.25 million.
- $1,475,000 recovery for conveyor belt Injuries: Our client was a 36-year-old maintenance mechanic working in a Philadelphia factory when he noticed one of the belts on a transfer conveyor was out of alignment. When he reached his hand underneath the machine to check the tension of the belt, our client suffered several severe hand and wrist injuries. The guard that was supposed to prevent operators from putting their hands into the drive shaft gearing of the power transmission was found 5 feet from where our client was working. We filed claims against the conveyor company that designed and manufactured the belt for a design defect and failure to warn. We negotiated a $1,475,000 settlement with the conveyor company that installed the belt.
Our Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Protect the Rights of Clients Injured by Dangerous Power Tools
Our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have the experience and knowledge to handle your power tool injury case. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.