When employees work with large equipment and machinery, there is always the added risk of injury. Luckily, Ohio has in place a workers' compensation system that helps employees recover after workplace injuries.
States usually have many laws in place regarding workplace accidents and injuries. Companies and employers are generally protected from an employee's personal injury suit, unless it can be shown that the company intentionally tried to hurt the worker. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce even goes so far as to say that employees should never have the ability to bring a lawsuit against an employer for a work accident and that the workers' compensation should be more than enough remedy.
An injured Ohio employee recently argued the deliberate injury exception, saying that his employer deliberately tried to hurt an employee and deliberately removed a safety guard.
The man was doing inventory, placed between 25-foot high stacks, when a co-worker operating a sideloader pinned the man against another lift in the aisle. The man sustained a crushed leg and ankle. His pelvis was also fractured. His recovery included a six-month hospital stay.
Attorneys for the injured worker claim that he was forced to work in an area with poor lighting and not given a reflective vest. They also point out that the employer did not display safety cones or expandable gates on the inventory aisles. An expandable gate would have prevented machinery from entering, thereby preventing the injury the employee sustained.
The workers' compensation claim paid the employee money to cover his medical expenses. The claim also covered some of his lost wages for when he couldn't work. If the victim could have proved the company intentionally caused his injured, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation would have been able to recover from the employer the money paid under the workers' comp claim.
Since the initial lawsuit against the employer, the victim passed away and the Ohio Supreme Court denied the man's lawsuit. But the case is a good reminder to employees that even though workers' compensation is in place, there may be other avenues to recovery.
Source: Cleveland.com, "Injured worker lawsuit at Ohio Supreme Court spotlights deliberate-intent-to-harm standard (gallery)," Allison Grant, March 3, 2013