Potential Liability for Injuries Due to Heavy Machinery Accidents

liability for heavy machinery accidentsWorkers in many industries, including construction and manufacturing, operate heavy machinery during building, demolition and restoration. Unfortunately, constant exposure to this machinery can put workers at a greater risk of being in an accident that can result in life-altering injuries and fatalities.

If you or someone you care about has been injured at work in a heavy machinery accident, Sigman Janssen is here to help. Reach out to discuss your situation today in a free, no-obligation consultation.

Who Could Be Liable for Your Injuries?

If a worker is performing his or her normal work duties and suffers an injury due to heavy machinery, he or she may be able to obtain worker’s compensation benefits. In Wisconsin, this could include all reasonable and necessary medical expenses and wage loss benefits. If a worker is fatally injured, death benefits may be pursued. You can receive these benefits no matter who is at fault for the accident.

However, accidents at work are not always caused by a fellow worker. There are certain situations in which an individual or a worker from another company may have acted carelessly and caused you harm.

If a third party was involved in your accident, our attorneys are here to help. Although you do not have the right to sue your employer when you are covered by worker’s compensation insurance, you could file a claim against negligent third parties. Examples of third parties that could be liable include:

  • General contractor – On a construction site, the general contractor is responsible for providing a safe work environment that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines and local requirements.
  • Project owner – The project owner may not necessarily be your employer and could be responsible for maintaining a safe work site and providing direction for a contractor to enforce. 
  • Manufacturer – When heavy machinery is defective, the manufacturer of these products could share some liability in an accident.

Why Heavy Machinery Accidents Occur

Accidents involving heavy machinery occur all too often on construction sites, leading to numerous injuries every year. Some of the reasons why heavy machinery accidents occur include:

Inadequate Training

Operating heavy machinery safely and correctly requires specialized training and experience. When a worker is not given adequate training on how to properly use a machine, accidents can happen.

Workers should also be supervised when operating heavy machinery. Some workers may not be aware of all the dangers that may be present in an area while using a crane, forklift, bulldozer, hoist or other type of heavy machinery.

Having the right supervision could help prevent workers using heavy machinery from doing something that causes harm to themselves or others around them.

Lack of Maintenance

Heavy machinery that is poorly maintained poses a serious risk for workers who use it and others working nearby. The longer maintenance is not performed, the greater chance that warning systems on the machine will fail to function. If the alert system breaks, other workers may not be warned and get hit.

For instance, forklifts could possibly malfunction if not adequately maintained. A load could come down unexpectedly from a malfunctioning forklift and crush workers nearby. If a crane malfunctions, it can collapse and easily injure or fatally harm workers below.

Heavy machinery that is defective should also not be used until proper repairs are made. Putting a piece of machinery back in service before repairs are completed puts workers in danger.

Improper Inspections

It is important that heavy machinery is inspected on a regular basis. Workers should be utilizing checklists to ensure that the machine is in good working condition. All heavy machinery must have:

  • A working brake system, including emergency and parking brakes
  • Working headlights, taillights and brake lights
  • An audible warning device, such as a horn

How to Reduce the Risk of an Accident

Most heavy machinery accidents are preventable when proper safety guidelines are implemented and followed. There are certain steps you can take when working with heavy equipment to protect yourself and reduce the risk of an accident and injury.

  • Wear appropriate safety gear – Depending on your line of work, this could include hardhats, heavy-duty gloves, face shields, ear plugs, steel-toed boots, harnesses and safety vests.
  • Keep machine-guarding equipment on – This safety equipment helps protect workers from danger, such as flying chips and sparks when operating heavy machinery.
  • Stay clear of operating or moving machinery – If someone else is operating heavy machinery, do not distract or bother them. Operating these machines require focus as there may be many moving parts and breaking that focus could result in serious injuries.
  • Only operate machinery you are trained for – Operating heavy machinery without proper, specialized training puts you and others at risk of being injured.
  • Use machinery as intended – Each piece of heavy machinery is designed to perform a specific task. Using machinery to perform other jobs can be dangerous.

Our Initial Consultations Are Free of Charge

If you have been injured in an accident at work, a licensed Green Bay worker’s compensation lawyer from our firm is prepared to discuss your rights and legal options in a free consultation. We have decades of experienced helping to secure the benefits injured workers and their families need.

There are no upfront fees to unitize our services. We only get paid if we help you obtain compensation.

For a free case review, call (877) 888-5201.