- February 4, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Product Liability
Whenever a company hires people to work in a physical location, it is making a commitment to provide those people with as safe a workplace as reasonably possible. This means anticipating any foreseeable dangers, minimizing or eliminating them wherever possible, enforcing policies that prioritize safety over production speed, and equipping staff with the necessary gear and knowledge to navigate any remaining hazards effectively.
The term “foreseeable” can be somewhat subjective, but there are some types of accidents that happen so often that no company has any excuse not to anticipate them. In fact, there are four general categories of accidents that, put together, account for 57% of all workplace fatalities.
OSHA calls them the “Fatal Four.”
Accidents in which a worker is struck by a falling or swinging object are the second deadliest type on this list.
Construction and manufacturing workers are especially prone to serious “struck-by” accidents, which is why employers in these industries should have extensive safety procedures in place to ensure that suspended objects are secured, and workers are out of harm’s way or can be found liable for their neglect.
One Factory Accident in Sumter County Caused Three Struck-By Injuries
Early this year, three workers were injured in an industrial accident at International RV Manufacturing, near Swett Avenue in Americus. In addition to RVs, the location also manufactures boats. According to early reports, the workers were unloading a heavy piece of boating equipment, when it slipped and fell on them.
Thankfully, no one was killed, but all three were injured, two of them badly enough to require a medical airlift.
This is a classic struck-by accident scenario, one that all manufacturing companies should be on the lookout for, and taking all possible precautions to prevent.
Not much information is available about International RV’s safety record, because it’s quite a new company, first registered as an LLC in November of 2020. The company’s registered agent is also listed as the agent for two other Georgia-based boat manufacturing companies registered the same year.
Registered agents are individuals designated to accept legal documents on behalf of a company. They are often people close to the company’s owner, but need not be. There are also professionals who provide this service for a fee.
So, it’s possible that International RV Manufacturing is just the latest in a string of small limited liability companies founded by a larger entity to decentralize its legal risks. Or, it could be a genuine small business having a disastrous second year.
In either case, employee safety is the most basic and non-negotiable investment a company should be expected to make in order to do business. Whether by carelessness, greed, or a lack of resources, something went terribly wrong here, and these three people deserve to have their injuries properly treated and compensated.
The Right to Sue After a Workplace Accident Is Limited, but There Are Options
Injured workers are generally required to file workers’ compensation claims, rather than suing their employers directly.
Workers’ comp operates faster than litigation, but it provides only partial compensation for workers’ financial losses, and nothing for pain or emotional harm.
There are some situations, however, in which industrial accident survivors can file a lawsuit:
- When a legitimate workers’ comp claim is denied. This opens the door to sue the employer instead.
- When the worker is not officially employed by the factory owner. Independent contractors and “off-the-books” workers may be able to sue factory owners based on premises liability rather than workplace safety.
- When defective equipment contributed to the accident. This does not increase the employer’s liability, but it may allow the worker to sue a third-party equipment provider, who is not shielded by workers’ comp law.
When the option is available, a civil suit can provide an accident survivor with much more complete compensation for the full extent of the damages. Survivors don’t have to choose between these two strategies, either; collecting workers’ comp doesn’t affect the right to sue.
If you were one of the three people injured in the International RV boat accident, or if you have suffered another industrial accident in Georgia, call The Stoddard Firm to discuss your next steps.