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Were you injured or was a loved one killed in a workplace accident?

You may be entitled to more than worker's compensation benefits.

Charlotte attorney Gary Mauney has twenty-five years of experience fighting for people injured by negligence in the workplace. Two men in a crane killed by a dust explosion at a particle board plant in Stuart, Virginia. A gas station canopy builder from Eden, North Carolina paralyzed when a steel girder fell off a delivery truck and crushed his back. The operator of a street sweeper killed by the negligence of a tractor trailer operator not paying attention to the road ahead. And the list of examples is, unfortunately, long.


Workplace accidents in Charlotte and across North Carolina are all too common. One month ago, a Duke Energy line technician died while making repairs to electrical equipment in Charlotte – a car hit the utility pole he was working on. This past May, a man died in a forklift accident at a Charlotte distribution center. Last August, a baggage handler was killed at the Charlotte airport when his tug vehicle swerved to miss a piece of luggage on the tarmac. When accidents like this happen on the job, your recovery may not be limited to worker’s compensation.

Injured workers often have more options than just worker’s compensation.

If you've been injured in the workplace, you may have been told that the only compensation you can receive is from your employer's workers' compensation insurance. Although this is the general rule, there are many exceptions -- situations in which you may be able to sue for damages caused by your injuries. For example:

  • If you were injured by a defective product, you might be able to bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of the product.

  • If you were injured by a toxic substance, you might be able to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of that substance.

  • If you were injured because of your employer's intentional conduct, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer.

  • If your employer does not carry worker’s compensation insurance, you might be able to sue your employer in civil court or collect money from a state fund.

  • If a third party caused your injury (someone other than your employer), you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person.

Although worker’s compensation can provide money and benefits to an injured worker, temporary disability and permanent disability payments are usually quite low and don't compensate the worker for things like pain and suffering. Workers' compensation also does not provide punitive damages to punish an employer for poor safety controls or dangerous conditions. That's why it's important for injured workers to understand their rights to bring a case outside of the workers' compensation system.


Were you Injured by a defective product?

When a worker is injured by a machine or piece of equipment that is defective, failed to work properly, or is inherently dangerous, the manufacturer of the machine or equipment can be held responsible for the injury if it knew of the danger and/or didn't properly warn the business or employees of the danger. In such a situation, the manufacturer would have to compensate the worker for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


Example:

Steve works in a factory that produces office products. His job is to operate a punch press that punches holes in boxes. One day, when Bill puts his hand into the press to adjust a box, the foot pedal that he uses to stop the press sticks, and the press crushes three of his fingers. His fingers are no longer usable after the accident. Bill can collect workers' compensation from his employer, and he also has a possible products liability case against the manufacturer of the defective press.


If you have been injured by an unsafe machine or other equipment in your workplace, consider talking to attorney Gary Mauney at Mauney PLLC about your rights. You can also file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration if there have been unsafe conditions, in addition to filing a workers' compensation claim. This is a particularly important step to take if your employer is still requiring you or other employees to use the equipment.


Did a third party – someone other than your employer - injure you?

Sometimes when an employee is injured on the job, the fault lies not with the employer or with a dangerous substance or machine, but with another person. In this type of case, the employee might be able to sue that person for damages.


Examples:

Brenda drives a company car to make sales calls on her clients. While en route to a client's office, she is hit by Keith, who runs a red light. Keith is at fault in the accident and is the cause of Brenda's injuries. Brenda can bring a lawsuit against Keith for damages (and Joe's insurance company may pay out without a lawsuit).


Ken works for a gas station canopy builder. One day, a company delivering steel beams to Ken’s worksite fails to properly secure the beams to the bed of the trailer. When the trailer arrives at the worksite, a loose beam falls and on Ken, crushing his back and severely injuring him. Ken can bring a lawsuit against the steel beam company to recover for his injuries and lost wages.


If a third party's intentional or negligent conduct caused your injury, talk to a personal injury attorney about your rights.


Were you hurt by a toxic substance?

Sometimes the chemicals and other substances that workers use are toxic and cause severe injuries and illnesses. These substances can include such things as asbestos, benzene, chromium compounds, silica, and radium, but any substance that harms you could possibly be the subject of a lawsuit for a “toxic tort.”


Generally speaking, there are two kinds of toxic injuries: acute injuries are apparent immediately, while latent injuries may take years to appear. Examples of acute injuries include chemical burns and poisonings. Examples of latent injuries include cancers and lung diseases. Because of the time delay, latent injuries tend to be more difficult to prove than acute ones, but these cases are not impossible. Workers have been successful in lawsuits brought years after their exposure to the toxic substance. (In particular, workers who suffer from asbestosis or mesothelioma, almost always succeed in lawsuits because the causation between exposure to asbestos, asbestosis and mesothelioma has been proven in many lawsuits.) When a worker is injured by a toxic substance, the worker can usually sue the manufacturer of the toxic substance and any manufacturers of safety equipment that proved to be ineffective in the handling of the toxic substance.


If you have been injured or sickened by a toxic substance, attorney Gary Mauney can help you by advising you about your legal rights. Especially if a great deal of time has passed between your exposure and your injury or illness, you will need the assistance of an expert to help you sort out the complicated issues involved. And even if the toxic injury was recent, an attorney can probably get you the best settlement for your injury. Time is never on your side, though, when it comes to proving your case, so obtaining the assistance of an attorney is very important.


If the toxic substance is continuing to make the workplace unsafe for your or others, consider taking the additional step of filing a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


Talk to attorney Gary Mauney about your workplace injury.

Attorney Gary Mauney of Mauney PLLC is just an email or phone call away. To talk to Gary Mauney confidentially about your injury, and your rights to sue, email him at garymauney@mauneypllc.com or call 704/945-7185. There will be no fee for the consultation.