Industrial Accident Triggers Investigation And Fine At Plant
The Department of Labor found fifteen serious violations at a Center, Texas Tyson Foods plant, and fined the company $263,000.
Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration toured the poultry plant earlier this year, after OSHA received reports that a worker’s finger was amputated following an industrial accident. The worker tried to clear a belt jam by removing chicken parts, and doctors had to amputate a severely cut finger. Investigators ultimately cited the Arkansas-based company for a number of life-threatening violations, including improper safeguards on moving parts, dangerously high carbon dioxide levels, insufficient worker safety precautions, and improper compressed natural gas storage. Some violations were repeat violations, as this Tyson plant was also inspected and fined in 2012.
In a statement, the company insisted that it is “committed to continual improvement in our workplace safety efforts.”
Since OSHA only has a handful of inspectors, a fine or other adverse action isn’t necessary to file a workers’ compensation claim. This has been the system since a century ago, when in the “Grand Bargain” between labor and management, workers gave up their right to sue in court to obtain compensation after industrial accidents in exchange for no-fault insurance that compensates victims for their economic losses. These damages include:
- Lost Wages: If the injury causes a temporary total disability (TTD), the injured victims are generally entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wage until they can return to work; victims who must accept light duty while they recover typically receive two-thirds of the difference between their old and new wages.
- Medical Bills: This category includes all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, such as emergency care, corrective surgery, follow-up care, and physical rehabilitation. Victims are also generally entitled to compensation for medical devices, prescription drugs, and some other out-of-pocket expenses.
Wrongful death and catastrophic injuries caused by industrial accidents or other workplace accidents normally trigger additional compensation.
Suing Outside Workers’ Compensation
In some cases, injured workers can sue outside workers’ compensation and take their claims directly to civil court. These situations include:
- Negligent Co-Workers: Workers’ compensation protects employers but not employees, so if an individual causes an industrial accident the individual may be responsible for damages.
- Defective Products: Manufacturers are usually responsible for the injuries their products cause, if the flaw was a design or manufacturing defect.
- Extreme Recklessness: In the above example, if a worker was injured because of an unresolved problem from 2012, the victim arguably has a case for additional damages.
These additional damages are compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are also available in civil court, in some cases.
For prompt assistance with an industrial accident claim, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Lake Charles from Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.