Third-Party Claims: Workplace Amputations

The Georgia amputation attorneys at SMITH LAW represent employees who have suffered amputations and other severe workplace injuries due to the negligence of third parties (i.e., someone other than an employee's employer). Third parties who could be liable for workplace injuries may include the owner of the property where the accident occurred (unless the property is owned and managed by the employer), or companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell defective machinery and equipment.

Every year thousands of employees lose toes, fingers, hands, and other body parts in workplace injuries. According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 58 percent of amputations involve machinery. Manufacturing employees often operate heavy machinery (e.g., mechanical power presses, printing presses, powered conveyors, etc.), so they face the highest risk of suffering an amputation at work. Indeed, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration reported that almost half of all workplace amputations occur within the manufacturing industry.

I Already Filed a Claim for Workers' Compensation Benefits. Why Do I Need to File a Third-Party Claim?

The loss of a limb is a traumatic and life-changing experience. Unfortunately, under Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law, employees who are injured at work cannot recover damages for non-economic harm, nor can they recover punitive damages (i.e., damages awarded to punish the defendant). Instead, employees can only recover their medical expenses, lost wages, and partial disability benefits (in some cases). Under a third-party liability claim, however, employees can recover non-economic damages, including damages for the physical pain caused by the injury, emotional distress (e.g., anxiety, shock, humiliation, embarrassment, etc.), mental anguish, disfigurement and scarring, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life (e.g., dependence on others, loss of mobility, etc.), and loss of companionship.

Claims under Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law are subject to a no-fault insurance system, which means that an injured employee can typically recover benefits regardless of who caused the injury. By contrast, to prevail on a third-party negligence claim, an injured employee must establish: (1) the existence of a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to protect others against unreasonable risks of harm; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) damages; and (4) a causal connection between the breach and the resulting damages. For example, product manufacturers (such as companies that make heavy machinery and equipment) have a duty to exercise reasonable care in manufacturing products that are reasonably safe for their intended or foreseeable uses. As another example, product manufacturers have a duty to warn of reasonably foreseeable dangers associated with using their products. This duty to warn may be breached when the manufacturer fails to provide any warning of a danger that the manufacturer knew or should have known about, or when the manufacturer provides insufficient warning of a danger that the manufacturer knew or should have known about. When a manufacturer breaches these duties and someone gets injured as a result, the manufacturer may be liable.

Contact SMITH LAW to see how we can help you with your amputation case. Located in Gwinnett County, our amputation attorneys serve clients in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia.