Worker's Compensation injuries and Product Liability in Utah
There are many individuals that get injured on the work-site. A lot of the work-site injuries also involve a type of machinery, truck, tools, equipment, ect. Many attorneys overlook the fact that work-site injuries can also involve a products liability claim. This is important and is something that should not be overlooked. In worker’s compensation claims, the damages that you can recover are more limited. There are no punitive damages like most cases and there is no pain and suffering. The damages are time lost for the injury, medical expenses and loss of movement of a limb and the percentage of loss which is calculated into a monetary amount.
The reason for this is as the theory goes, that the company is giving up the injured worker having to prove any kind of negligence on the worker’s end which in theory makes it easier for them to recover. The problem in reality though is that worker compensation claims still are not easy in actuality. Many people think that insurance companies are just fountains of money that you can go to and draw from, that they are your friend and will treat you right. This is also not a reality, especially in worker’s compensation cases. If the company is liable, then their premiums go up and they don’t want that to happen. The insurance company, if they have to fork out money, they lose money. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses which creates a huge conflict of interest for the insured.
The less money they have to pay out the more money they make. Companies also might have to also pay a certain premium before they reach a deductible they may not want to pay out. Sometimes companies intentionally drag-out the process to dissuade the worker and other workers from filing a worker’s compensation claim and have them think about just billing their private insurance. Workers are usually treated better if this happens. If they file a worker’s compensation claim, the company can turn against them. The problem is too, that if it is a serious injury and that person can’t work, then they may not receive any money while the process is dragged-out, this happens when the company claims that it wasn’t a work-site injury. They make this claim a lot even though it may be readily apparent and there is no other explanation as to the injury.
If they make that claim, they don’t have to pay and the worker is left to find a way to live off savings, pull from their 401K, live off family or receive money from the government. They may get terminated. They may lose their health insurance benefits to attend to the injuries. Companies can drive workers into homelessness. It is not fair. It is not right. It creates lots of stress, anxiety and depression for these people. However, it was a work-site injury and the company should have to pay for it under worker’s compensation.
A skilled worker’s compensation attorney can make the process as painless as possible and resolve the matter as quickly as possible to ensure you are taken care of. Another thing that is fought over is the seriousness of the injury. Companies are allowed to have an IME or independent medical examination. This individuals act as expert witnesses for the company. They can make a determination of how injured you are and whether or not you are ready to come back to work. A lot of IMEs get their assessment wrong.
They are incentivized to down-play the injury. Their assessment may be completely different than the actual doctor treating the disease so now you also have to battle an IME witness and counter how bad you have actually suffered. Working with companies that have lots of leverage and money can makes these cases a headache for those that go it alone. Also, if you were injured due to the company’s failure to follow safety code and procedure, you may also be entitled to a 15% penalty fee on top of any awards for their failure to follow regulations or their own internal procedure that put your safety in jeopardy.
On the product liability side, if one is injured on the worksite by a product that is defective, they can also recover from the manufacturers and all of the distributors in the chain for damages. This includes pain and suffering damages which is not included with worker’s compensation as well as punitive damages which is a penalty fee for the company making a defective product. Utah law is aimed toward the consumers and protects the consumers. Many states have product liability law that protects the companies more.
Some states have it where only the person that bought the product can have a claim. The person also has to prove some kind of negligence. In Utah, to prove the product was defective, they must prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous. To prove that, it is a test that is in the eyes of the consumers. If the product has propensities, risks and dangers that the consumer could not contemplate based on training and experience and the person is injured thereby, then the product is unreasonably dangerous.
So if the worker injured himself or herself by not following known safety procedure then they may be out of luck. But if they were injured by a product for a reason they could not account for, then the company could be found liable. This can help consumers rightfully recover all damages they have incurred as a result of an injury. Feel free to reach out to us for further discussion on facts specifically related to your case.