Heavy machinery makes modern life possible, allowing fast, mass-scale production of the goods we use every day. Unfortunately, industrial machines can also be extremely dangerous for the workers who use them, even for machinists who are highly skilled and experienced. Saws, presses, drills, and other industrial machines can weigh hundreds or thousands of pounds, produce extremely high temperatures, generate powerful electrical currents, or use features like spinning blades or pressurized water to slice through glass and steel. When a person works with or near dangerous industrial machinery, it only takes an instant for an accident to occur.
If you or one of your family members was injured at work while using an industrial machine, workers’ compensation benefits may be available for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses caused by the injury. However, the workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina are complex and time-sensitive, and it is common for disabled workers to find their claims denied by employers or their insurance companies. A skilled and aggressive Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, like the attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm, can level the playing field by handling your claim, protecting your legal rights, and fighting back if your benefits are unfairly denied, suspended, reduced, or terminated.
The Ramsay Law Firm is committed to helping injured workers and their families obtain the compensation they deserve. For a free legal consultation with a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, contact the Ramsay Law Firm online, or call our law offices today at (704) 376-1616.
Dangerous Machines Involved in Workplace Accidents
While workplace safety regulations have improved over the past several decades, work-related accidents continue to occur on a daily basis. According to a November 2017 news release issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “There were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.” Additionally, “Nearly one-third of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses were of a more serious nature and resulted in days away from work.”
Many of these injuries can be traced back to dangerous industrial equipment and machinery, which are used by workers in industries ranging from construction and manufacturing to mining and transportation. Depending on the nature of a worker’s occupation and job duties, some examples of dangerous machines that he or she might be required to operate include:
- Band saws or table saws
- Drill presses
- Food slicers
- Grinding machines
- Machines with missing, damaged, or defective safety guards
- Meat grinders and meat-cutting tools
- Mechanical power presses
- Milling machines
- Power press brakes
- Printing presses
- Roll-forming and roll-bending machines
- Shearing machines
These and other industrial machines have been identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as potential workplace hazards. Unfortunately, this list represents only a small selection of the countless tools and machines that can cause devastating or even fatal injuries.
What Types of Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in NC?
Some people have a misconception that only catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis or the loss of a limb, qualify the victim for workers’ compensation benefits. In reality, benefits may be available for a wide range of injuries, including but not limited to the following:
- Back injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Bone fractures (broken bones)
- Burn injuries, including chemical burns and electrical burns
- Crush injuries from being trapped beneath heavy equipment
- Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
- Ear injuries and hearing loss
- Eye injuries and vision loss
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Loss of a finger, thumb, hand, toe, arm, or leg (amputation injuries)
- Nerve damage or loss of feeling resulting from a deep cut or incision
Unfortunately, there are nearly countless reasons these injuries can occur when a worker is operating or standing near a powerful industrial machine. For example, a worker’s sleeve, hair, watch, necklace, bracelet, or drawstrings could be snared on gears or rollers, pulling the worker toward slicing blades or crushing plates. Other times, an injury is caused by shrapnel being projected from a machine, such as a piece of wood or plastic flying into a worker’s eye. In other cases, injuries occur because a worker accidentally slips or stumbles, sending the worker against the machine. As long as (1) the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment, and (2) the employer is subject to workers’ compensation insurance laws, it may be possible to get a claim approved for benefits.
What Benefits Can Injured Workers Get in NC?
Many types of industrial machines can be hazardous for workers to use, particularly without close supervision or use of a “buddy system” to minimize the risk of accidents, such as lockout-tagout (LOTO) accidents that occur when machines are improperly shut down for maintenance. However, regardless of why a machinery-related workplace injury happens, the employee is generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which are mandatory for most North Carolina-based businesses to provide under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.
Unlike a personal injury claim, the worker filing for benefits does not have to prove that anyone was negligent or at fault in order to be compensated. While this arrangement typically prevents workers from suing their employers, it may be possible for an employee to sue a third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective machine. The work injury lawyers of the Ramsay Law Firm can evaluate all of your legal options to make a determination about the right course of action to pursue.
Depending on the nature and severity of the machine injury, benefits may generally be paid for a maximum duration of 500 weeks, which is approximately 9.5 years. Benefits pay for “reasonable” medical expenses, such as prescription medications or necessary surgical procedures, while partially compensating the worker’s lost pre-injury wages at a rate of roughly 66.66%. In the case of a fatal work accident, benefits may be available for the worker’s dependents to help with funeral costs and the loss of income.
Charlotte, NC Workplace Machinery Accident Attorneys
If you, your husband or wife, or a family member was hurt at work in a machine-related accident, such as an accidental work injury from a drill press or band saw, the Ramsay Law Firm may be able to help you recover compensation. Backed with more than 20 years of experience proudly representing North Carolina’s workforce, we are fierce, dedicated, and knowledgeable advocates for the injured and disabled, including full-time workers, part-time workers, and independent contractors. To arrange a free legal consultation with our Charlotte machine work injury lawyers, contact the Ramsay Law Firm today at (704) 376-1616.