Typically if you are injured on the job, your only remedy is through your employer's worker's compensation insurance. But if your injury is the result of the unreasonable behavior of someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, you may be able to bring a claim against them for negligence. There are limitations and potential pitfalls involved in bringing a claim against a third party when you are hurt at work. So if you feel you may have a claim against someone other than your employer for an injury you suffered on the job, it is important to talk to someone with experience in these cases as soon as possible.
Tucson Cell Tower Worker Falls 65 Feet and Dies .
Last week I wrote about your options if you are hurt at work. Tragically in the days since that post, we have had a real world example of some of the concepts I talked about.
On Tuesday, Edward Wallen, a 22 year old man, was working high atop a cell-phone tower in Tucson. According to Tucson Fire officials, Mr. Wallen was 65 feet up when he fell. Mr. Wallen was wearing a safety harness with primary and secondary safety tethers. Apparently both systems failed.
At this point, we do not know if there was an equipment failure or another explaination. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation is currently underway.
This sad story illustrates the puzzle injured workers and their families must navigate. If the failure was a result of a poorly designed or manufactured harness system, Mr. Wallen's family may bring a claim against the harness maker. If, though the failure was a result of some negligence on the part of his employer, his family will be limited to the survival benefits the worker's compensation system provides. Those benefits are certain to come, but they are minimal.
In any case, this is a terrible story to read as the holidays approach. We wish Edward Wallen's family a measure of peace in these difficult days. And we wish all of you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving week.