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Industrial Equipment Defects

Many people in the Chicago area work with heavy machinery or industrial equipment every day. Construction workers, warehouse workers, food plant workers, factory workers — there are many of these jobs in and around Chicago, and these workers encounter risks every day as they operate equipment that can be dangerous when proper safety protocols aren’t in place. Their employers should have policies and procedures to try to ensure that workers are kept as safe as is possible, but an employer can’t always control for everything.

When there’s a defect in the machine or equipment, a worker may become seriously injured if the machine malfunctions. Depending on the nature of the equipment, a worker could suffer serious burns, electrocution, broken limbs, crushing injuries, head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries, or amputation. Injuries suffered because of defective heavy machinery or industrial equipment can be permanently disabling.

Third-Party Liability for Defective Equipment

When you’re injured while using heavy machinery or industrial equipment on the job, you may be able to get workers compensation benefits to cover your medical care or part of the income you lose if you are disabled by your injuries. However, if your injuries were caused by a defect in the equipment, you may be able to pursue a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, installer, or seller. In Illinois, you can file a product liability lawsuit when you are injured because of a:

  • Design Defect — The product is designed in a way that makes it unsafe to use for its intended purpose, such as designing the product without safety features.
  • Manufacturing Defect — The product is fabricated or manufactured in a way that makes it dangerous to use for its intended purpose, such as failing to install a safety guard even though it’s in the design.
  • Failure to Warn — Machinery that is dangerous should come labeled with warnings or safety instructions. When those are missing, that may be a defect for which you can sue.

A product liability claim may help you get compensation for damages that workers compensation benefits do not cover. You may be able to recover payment for any medical expenses or lost income not covered by workers compensation, as well as your pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life.

Common Industrial Machine Defects

Because the range and type of equipment and machinery used in the workplace can be so varied, so can the ways in which that equipment and machinery may be defective. Some common ways that result in serious injuries include:

  • Improper Safety Guards or Shielding — Probably the most common way that a worker may be hurt by a defective product is that the product lacks safety guards or shielding to protect the worker from the dangers of operating the machine. A couple examples of machines that should include safety guards are industrial meat slicers or drill presses.
  • Defective Shut-Off Switches — Dangerous machines should have shut-off switches so that workers can safely access parts of the machine for maintenance. When a shut off switch is defective, part of an employee’s body may be caught in machinery used for slicing, grinding, crushing, or pressing and very serious injuries may result.
  • Defective Electrical Wiring or Grounding — When wiring is defective or a machine isn’t properly grounded, a worker may be electrocuted.
  • Lack of Warnings — When workers aren’t warned about potential dangers of machinery, they may become injured.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Trying to sort out which company should be liable for a defective product can be complicated and confusing. There may be an extensive paper trail to follow, and complex legal principles involved. A Chicago accident lawyer experienced in product liability matters can do the work of finding the responsible party and pursuing your claim for compensation, allowing you to focus on healing and putting your life back together.

As part of the process of pursuing your claim, your lawyer can handle details such as investigating the details of your accident; gathering pictures, witness testimony, reports, and medical records; hiring engineers, scientists, doctors, or other experts to support your claim; making a settlement demand and negotiating with insurance companies; filing a lawsuit and arguing your claim in court.