Accidents and their resultant injuries can occur in a broad array of circumstances and through many mechanisms of injury. In fact, the Social Security Administration estimates that 1 in 4, or 25-percent, of today’s 20-year-old-workers, will become disabled at some point during their career. If you become injured at work, you are likely going to wonder about your recovery, your medical bills, and how your family will cope with your injury.
For more than three and a half decades, the personal injury and work amputation lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm have stood up for those injured in the workplace. Let us handle your legal concerns so that you can focus on your recovery from your catastrophic injuries. The Reiff Law Firm believes that negligent employers should be held accountable for their actions. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss the details of your potential case, contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940. You may also contact the firm online to schedule your free consultation today.
What Parts of Workplace Machinery Are Dangerous?
While injury can occur due to any part of a large mechanical apparatus, certain aspects are more likely than others to cause injury. These danger areas include:
- The point of operation – This is the area where the machine performs work on the raw material. For example, the saw blade of a table saw would be considered the point of operation.
- Any moving component – Any part of a machine that moves can potentially grab clothing or other accessories and pull an individual, or their body parts, into dangerous machinery.
- Energy transmission vectors – Any aspect of the machine that transforms or transmits energy can be dangerous to workers. This can include cams, gears, pulleys, levers, and more.
These types of hazards or risks can lead to an array of injuries. For instance, any moving component of a machine can theoretically grab onto clothing, jewelry, or one’s hair. Being pulled into the machine can inflict serious, life-altering crushing injuries. Similarly, while most workplaces utilize shut-off switches and tagging devices, some still do not. In other cases, workers may fail to use such devices because of time pressures. This makes the risk of an injury due to machinery significantly more likely.
What Types of Motions Can Cause Amputations in The Workplace?
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the United States Department of Labor. OSHA’s mission is to promote and assure safe and healthy working conditions for Americans nationwide. OSHA has identified the types of mechanical motions that present an amputation risk to workers. These hazardous motions are:
- Rotating motion – Found in machinery like flywheels, spindles, and shaft ends, rotating motion can grip or grab clothing or other loose articles, pulling body parts into a machine.
- Transversing motion – Straight continuous motions can trap or pin a worker between the moving part and a stationary object.
- Reciprocating motion – Found in mechanical apparatus, like a reciprocating saw, this up and down motion can strike or trap a worker.
- Punching motion – Machines that stamp or press metal or other materials can cause serious injury. Workers can have body parts crushed by the stamping motion, or they may become ensnared on other moving parts such as a conveyer belt.
- Shearing motion – Powered slides or knives can shear off metal or other materials. Unfortunately, these machines can also cause severe injury to limbs and other body parts.
- Cutting motion – Sawing, boring, drilling, slicing, and milling all involve some form of a cutting motion. Cutting can lead to amputation and many other injuries.
- Bending motion – Forming metal into shapes by bending is an integral part of many operations.
Many employers take measures to protect workers from injuries of this type. These measures may include the installation of guards and guides to physically prevent injury. Furthermore, safety devices can autonomously, or with human intervention, shut-off workplace machinery. Depending on the circumstances, your employer may have been required to install safety equipment. We can investigate the circumstances surrounding your workplace amputation and work to achieve a favorable settlement or jury verdict.
What Damages Do Workers Have After an Amputation?
Following an amputation, many workers believe that they will be unable to do the things that they once loved. In some instances, this is certainly the case. The injured worker may need to stop their work activities or seek less lucrative employment. However, the injured person likely has damages extending far beyond economic losses. The difficulties and challenges an amputation victim must navigate are numerous and impact all aspects of the individual’s life.
Aside from the impacts on the worker’s professional life and job duties, an amputation injury often causes many more negative consequences. For one, the worker may not be able to enjoy the aspects of life that he or she once enjoyed. If the worker was an avid hiker or played sports, he or she may be unable to do these things. Furthermore, the injured individual may struggle to simply complete his or her daily activities. He or she may need assistance with things that were once taken for granted, like dressing oneself, tying one’s shoes, attending to one’s daily hygiene, and many other basic activities.
The worker may also continue to experience pain and suffering from the loss of one or more limbs. This pain can be expressed as a “phantom limb” for days, weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Furthermore, damage to nerves and connective tissue can result in pain and discomfort that last for years or is a lifelong condition.
Why Do You need a Lawyer Following an Amputation Injury?
To a layperson and in the abstract, the consequences of an amputation injury may seem obvious and straightforward. However, insurance companies and defendants frequently work to minimize the impact of your serious injuries. They may claim that your injuries are not as limiting as you claim. They may also try to blame you for the accident and resulting injuries.
Aside from efforts by the insurer or defense counsel to muddy the waters, you will also need to prove your injury. This is typically done through the medical testimony of a doctor or other qualified expert. Working with a lawyer can increase the likelihood that the defense will attempt to impeach – attack the credibility – of your expert witness. If defense counsel attempts this tactic, you will be prepared.
A Pennsylvania amputation accident attorney will also understand the laws pertaining to your case and what is required for you to prevail and be awarded damages for your injury. To prevail in a workplace accident lawsuit against your employer, you will need to prove that your employer’s negligence was responsible for your injuries.
There are many types of evidence that you could use to prove your case. For example, if other workers were present to observe the cause of the accident, their testimony would be valuable to you. Additionally, medical records from the treatment of the injury would also be helpful. Be sure to document the severity of the injury so that you could request damages that match your medical expenses and related costs.
It is also important to note that there are four elements of negligence the plaintiff would have to prove in order to be awarded compensatory damages:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care (e.g., to provide a safe workspace)
- The defendant breached the duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff suffered injuries and losses that could be pursued in a court of law
Once all four of these elements are proven, the plaintiff could be awarded compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are awarded for economic losses and noneconomic losses. As mentioned, pain and suffering is a type of noneconomic loss that could be provided to a plaintiff for an amputation injury. The plaintiff could also be awarded the following damages:
- Medical costs for surgery, rehabilitation, medication, and other related expenses
- Loss of wages and future loss of wages due to the injury
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there could be other damages that are available. The Reiff Law Firm could help you determine the damages available for your potential case. To learn more about when you should file your workplace amputation accident lawsuit, you should continue reading and work with a skilled Pennsylvania work amputation accident injury attorney.
When to File a Work Amputation Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
When injured in a workplace accident, a victim could file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer to recover damages for their injuries and other losses. However, a victim of a work amputation accident should also be aware that they only have a limited amount of time to file their lawsuit due to the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations places a typically strict deadline on the amount of time a potential plaintiff has to file their lawsuit with a court of law. A potential plaintiff should also know that the deadline for their case is subject to the laws of the state and the circumstances of the case. For example, every type of civil lawsuit does not share the same filing deadline. As a result, you should consider working with an experienced Pennsylvania work amputation accident attorney that could help you determine how long you have left to pursue your case.
In Pennsylvania, a plaintiff that wishes to file a work amputation accident lawsuit has two years from the date of the injury to file their case. If a victim does not succeed in meeting the two-year filing deadline, the court has the authority to bar the case. Specifically, if the defendant successfully dismisses the lawsuit, the court could bar the plaintiff’s lawsuit with prejudice, which means that the plaintiff could never refile the case.
Losing the opportunity to claim compensation for your injury could be devastating for a victim. The victim would have to determine a way to pay medical expenses and other costs from the amputation injury alone, which could be troublesome as the victim’s injury would likely be unable to continue working their previous position.
A victim should never assume the statute of limitations deadline for their potential case as there are a number of other issues that could impact your case. If you bring your case to a Pennsylvania amputation injury lawyer with only one week to file the case, the lawyer could be apprehensive about taking your case for a few reasons. For instance, the lawyer would still need time to analyze the circumstances of your case before filing the complaint with a court.
A victim of a workplace accident should also be aware that they cannot pursue a personal injury lawsuit and a workers’ compensation claim against their employer. Only one type of claim could be pursued. However, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may be the more viable option as your employer may try to deny you workers’ comp benefits. Additionally, you may be able to recover more damages from a personal injury lawsuit as opposed to a workers’ comp claim.
Work with a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer After an Amputation Injury
If you have suffered an amputation injury, you face a lifelong injury. You will undoubtedly need significant medical attention and rehabilitative treatment to regain even a portion of your self-sufficiency and independence. However, with the right medical support, many people do make significant recoveries.
For more than three decades, the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm have stood up for injured people, including those who have had a limb amputated at work. We understand the burdens faced by a victim due to an amputation accident, and we would be pleased to offer you the legal representation you deserve. To schedule your free and confidential legal consultation, call (215) 709-6940. You may also use our online submission form to schedule a free case review with one of our skilled Pennsylvania amputation accident injury attorneys.