Workplace Injuries Caused by Dangerous or Defective Equipment
If you’ve been injured in a North Carolina workplace accident involving dangerous or defective equipment, you may have several options available to you to pursue compensation for your injuries. While the state’s workers’ compensation laws provide an efficient way of obtaining limited benefits in the wake of a workplace accident, the fact that a product or piece of equipment caused your injuries opens up the possibility of a third-party personal injury claim against the product’s manufacturer. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers have helped countless clients pursue both workers’ compensation claims as well as personal injury claims following workplace injuries caused by dangerous or defective equipment and products.What Is a Third-Party Product Liability Claim?
A third-party product liability claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit brought by an injured worker against the manufacturer of a product that caused or contributed to their injuries. These claims fall outside the scope of the workers’ compensation laws because you are not bringing the claim against your employer.
Examples of situations in which an injured worker may pursue a third-party product liability claim include:
- Injuries caused by exposure to a harmful chemical or substance;
- Crush injuries stemming from a defective piece of heavy machinery;
- Falls resulting from defective scaffolding or ladders;
- Motor vehicle accidents caused by defective vehicles;
- Injuries caused by power tools; and
- Injuries resulting from dangerous or defective construction equipment.
Of course, there are many other situations in which a third-party personal injury case is appropriate, and an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer can help you identify all potential claims.What Is the Difference Between a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Product Liability Claim?
The North Carolina workers’ compensation laws allow injured workers to file a claim with their employer (or their employer’s insurance company) seeking medical and disability benefits. Claims under the North Carolina Workers’ Act do not require an employee to prove that anyone else was at fault for their injuries. Generally, a workers’ compensation claim is your exclusive remedy against your employer.
However, if you suffered workplace injuries caused by dangerous equipment, you may be able to pursue a product liability claim, which is a type of personal injury claim. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, these claims are brought against a manufacturer of a product or piece of equipment. Further, North Carolina product liability claims require that an injured worker show that the manufacturer was negligent. Usually, this is done by presenting evidence that the product suffered from a design defect, manufacturing defect or that the manufacturer failed to include the necessary warnings on the product.
While proving a manufacturer’s negligence can be more challenging than obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, there is a significant upside to these cases. Most notably, a product liability claim allows you to collect compensation for both your economic and non-economic damages. While every case is different, typically, courts allow injured workers to recover compensation for the following in a third-party product liability claim:
- Past medical bills,
- Future medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Decrease in earning capacity,
- Physical pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Loss of consortium.
As a general rule, injured workers can pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a product liability claim at the same time. However, if you obtain workers’ compensation benefits and subsequently recover personal injury damages, your employer may attempt to recoup some or all of the benefits they paid to you. However, an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer may be able to limit an employer’s ability to seek reimbursement for the benefits you received.Did You Suffer Workplace Injuries Caused by Dangerous or Defective Equipment?
If you were recently injured on the job while using a product or piece of equipment, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, for immediate assistance. Our experienced North Carolina workers’ comp attorneys can advise you of your rights, review all of your options, and help you prepare an effective case to maximize your recovery. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747. We take all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis, meaning we will not bill you for our services unless we can connect you with compensation for what you’ve been through.