Earlier this month, a Houston man was killed in a tragic accident involving a tire shredder at work. The man had just begun working at a tire recycling plant when the accident occurred. The employee got caught in a tire shredder and was unable to escape. Coworkers reported the man missing before they realized that he had been killed. OSHA has launched an investigation into the accident.
This accident, although very tragic, is not uncommon. Thousands of workers are killed on the job every year in the U.S. Manufacturing facilities and factories are among some of the most dangerous types of work environments.
When a person is injured or killed on the job, he or she has legal rights. The individual or his or her family is most likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation pays for lost wages, medical expenses, disability, and death benefits. However, in most cases if workers’ compensation is available, the employee and/or his or her family is not able to directly sue the employer. Instead, the employee is only entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from the employer.
If the accident was caused by a third party, the injured employee and/or his or her family may be able to sue that party for damages. For example, in this case if the tire shredding machine malfunctioned, and that resulted in the man’s death, his family members may be able to sue the machine’s manufacturer for damages. Those damages could include pain and suffering and other benefits which usually are not available from workers’ compensation.
If you have been harmed on the job, you should speak with an attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected.