Employers have the responsibility to protect workers and to provide the proper training and minimize risks to employees.
Injuries that workers sustain while working at grain companies can be devastating and life-altering. These injuries are unfortunately not uncommon. There have been several more instances like these since this one where workers have lost their lives.
Two teenagers were seriously injured in a horrific accident that has changed their lives forever. The boys were both 17 when they were working for Zaloudek Grain Company. On August 4, 2011, they were operating a grain auger when one of the boys got caught in the machinery. His leg became stuck and his co-worker tried to help him get untangled, but he became caught as well. Both boys lost a leg to the machinery and were critically injured but were able to recover.
The boys’ families have filed lawsuits against the company and its shareholders for damages that are over $75,000. They are seeking punitive damages as well. The separate lawsuits filed by the two families allege five counts of negligence from the grain company. According to the lawsuits the in-floor auger that the boys became entrapped by was “improperly guarded, maintained, designed and configured all in violation of multiple federal and state safety codes, ordinances, labor laws and industry standards and practices.” Additionally, included in the lawsuit is the accusation that the company did not train the boys properly and failed to sufficiently supervise them.
The families are able to sue the company because at the time of the accident that company did not have workers’ compensation coverage. For this reason the company has already been fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Zaloudek currently has its own lawsuit filed against its workers’ compensation provider CompSource Oklahoma and would like to delay the hearing of the lawsuits filed by the boys’ families until the their own lawsuit has been resolved. Zaloudek maintains that CompSource should be responsible for the boy’s medical bills, yet the company did not have workers’ comp when the accident occurred, so what comes of that lawsuit has yet to be determined.
What is actually being contended in the lawsuit against CompSource is unclear. But Zaloudek’s lawyer argued that the case should have been covered by workers’ compensation unless the working conditions were so dangerous that injury is imminent and unavoidable. This is very difficult to prove in court, however.
Workers' Compensation Coverage
Workers’ compensation coverage is meant to protect employers and employees. When an employee is injured on the job, medical coverage and compensation for injuries is covered and employees then relinquish the right to bring a civil case against the employer. It is extremely important for employers to have workers’ compensation coverage to protect themselves, most states require that companies have workers’ comp insurance. If a company does not have workers’ compensation insurance it leaves them open to fines and allows for employees to pursue a case against them in civil court.
Unfortunately these boys’ lives are forever changed by this horrific accident, that very probably could have been prevented. Employers have the responsibility to protect workers and to provide the proper training and minimize risks to employees.
St. Louis Workers' Comp Lawyer
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, contact the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann for a free and private consultation by calling (314) 361-4300.
photo credit: four4dots