When workers nationwide, including in California, suffer on-the-job injuries, the workers' compensation system is there to provide financial relief. This is also true for any family who loses a loved one in a work accident. However, some workplace accidents are caused by defective equipment, and in such cases, injured victims or surviving family members may also have viable product liability claims against manufacturers and/or suppliers of faulty equipment.
An example of such a case is a claim that was recently filed in federal court against a forklift manufacturer and the distributor of the equipment. The lawsuit was filed by the family of a 44-year-old warehouse worker who lost his life near the end of Dec. 2014 in another state. According to court documents, the man was backing up the forklift when he hit the supporting horizontal beam of a shelf structure in the warehouse. He was trapped between the forklift and the steel beam and suffered fatal injuries.
The complaint states that the forklift was sold to the company without rear vertical posts that would have prevented the worker from being trapped. The family contends that although the rear posts have been an industry standard for many years, the manufacturer offered the posts as optional extra features. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence in supplying an unreasonably dangerous piece of equipment.
The outcome of this lawsuit is unknown but serves as a reminder to victims of workplace accidents in California that they may be able to pursue financial compensation in addition to workers' compensation benefits. Navigating both a workers' compensation and a civil claim may be complicated, and the experienced guidance of a workers' compensation attorney may be crucial to a successful outcome. A lawyer can examine the details of the work accident and assess the allegations to determine the viability of the civil claim. The attorney can also suggest the best way forward in pursuing fair compensation for financial and emotional losses.
Source: roanoke.com, "Lawsuit claims 2014 warehouse death caused by unsafe forklift", Laurence Hammack, Dec. 29, 2015