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Though workplace injuries are always a possibility, if you work in an industry involving machinery and/or heavy equipment — such as construction, factory and manufacturing work, etc. — you’re much more likely to suffer a workplace injury as a result of such engagement with high-risk equipment. Generally, an employer is expected to exercise reasonable care in maintaining workplace safety (and must adhere to the various regulations and codes relating to workplace safety in Florida and at the federal level). This may include the provision of safety equipment, adequate maintenance of said equipment, training employees to use the equipment properly, and more.
If you’ve been injured due to defective safety equipment in the workplace, you may be able to recover damages to compensate for the injuries sustained. Defective safety equipment accidents can be quite complicated, however, and the legal strategies involved can be confusing for the average person. It is therefore recommended that you consult with a qualified Fort Lauderdale defective safety equipment attorney like David I. Fuchs as soon as possible after your accident so that you are afforded ample opportunity to litigate your claim with the aid of a skilled and experienced attorney at your side.
In Florida, employers are required by law (specifically, Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes) to purchase workers’ compensation to provide compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illness. When an injured worker applies for and receives workers’ compensation benefits, they are compensated for out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages, so access to workers’ compensation can be helpful in certain minor cases.
Applying for workers’ compensation is not always the right choice, however. If you choose to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you will no longer be entitled to sue the employer on the basis of your various injury claims, as the workers’ compensation system provides benefits in exchange for the employee abandoning their right to sue the employer — as such, you may recover less than what you are reasonably entitled to, given the extent and nature of your injuries. It is worth noting, however, that there are some exceptions to this immunity rule, including but not limited to injuries caused by third parties. By qualifying for an exception, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits and sue your employer for negligence.
If you decide to forgo workers’ compensation (or qualify for an exception), then — depending on the circumstances — you may be able to sue the employer and/or the manufacturer, distributor, and other relevant parties.
An employer may be held liable for failing to exercise reasonable care with regard to their maintenance of the defective safety equipment. For example, if the safety equipment was defective because it was not inspected with reasonable frequency, then this may indicate negligence on the part of the employer.
The manufacturer, distributor, and/or designer of the equipment may be held liable depending on the defect that occurred — whether the defect was based on the equipment’s manufacture or design, or whether the defect was known but not reasonably warned against. These claims are independent of claims brought against the employer for negligence, though the shared facts may implicate certain of the defendants more in contributing to the injuries at-issue.
David I. Fuchs is an attorney with nearly 30 years of experience litigating work-related accident cases for clients located in Fort Lauderdale and across the state of Florida. David has dedicated his career to providing high-quality, aggressive advocacy, and he has successfully represented many clients who have suffered injuries in defective safety equipment accidents.