If you are injured while working for an employer who employs five or more persons, then you could have a claim for worker’s compensation under Alabama’s Worker’s Compensation Law. You may also have claim for that same job injury against a third party for negligence (for example, a car wreck caused by a non-employee) or a manufacturer of a defective product (e.g., machine, tool, instruments, vehicle, etc.).
Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act
Recoverable damages under the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act are generally very limited including only limited wage loss benefits, medical benefits and vocational retraining. Damages for a Alabama Worker’s Compensation claim do not include physical injury or pain and suffering. If you have a claim which is covered by Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act, you are permitted to also bring an action against third parties for those same injuries based on negligence or a defective product but you cannot bring an action against the employer or co-employees for negligence.
Alabama Workers Compensation Law
Alabama Worker’s Compensation law, however, does allow you to bring an action for both a worker’s compensation claim and a claim against a co-employee for “willful conduct.” Under Alabama Code Section 25-5-11 (1975), willful conduct includes “the willful and intentional removal from a machine of a safety guard or safety device provided by the manufacturer of the machine with knowledge that injury or death would likely or probably result from the removal.”
Based on Alabama case law, safety guards or safety devices have included car door latches, press machine buttons, a lever to stop or reverse a machine for safety purposes, and saw blade guards. On the other hand, Alabama cases hold that “willful conduct” does not include the failure to provide protective clothing or the failure to add guards not provided by the manufacturer of the product.
Whether a co-employee’s conduct constitutes “willful conduct” turns on the principal purpose for the “safety guard or safety device.” If the principal purpose for the guard or device is for productivity rather than safety, then removal of the guard or device cannot constitute “willful conduct”. On the other hand, if the principal purpose for the guard or device is safety rather than productivity, then removal of the guard or device may constitute “willful conduct.”
If the employer has less than five employees (such that the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act does not apply), then traditional tort claims (such as negligence, recklessness, and failure to maintain a safe workplace) may be brought against the employer and/or co-employees.
Gadsden Job Injury Lawyers
Our firm has represented clients with co-employee claims and, in many cases, received substantial recoveries for our client. In one case, the employee’s supervisor taped open a foot control guard thereby disabling the guard. The purpose of the foot guard was to prevent the employee from accidentally starting the press machine while body parts were in pinch point areas of the machine. The employee later accidentally pressed the foot pedal causing the press machine to amputate his index and middle finger on one hand.
In another case, a co-employee removed the top off of a screw conveyor. According to the company engineer, the top of the screw conveyor existed to prevent human contact with the screw. After the top of the conveyor was removed, the employee was standing on top of the open screw conveyor when another co-employee activated the screw. The employee’s legs were pulled into the screw resulting in the amputation of one leg and the permanent maiming of the other leg.
If you have been injured on the job, you need to call an attorney at out firm for an appointment. You will not be charged a fee in any personal injury case unless we recover for you.
We sincerely appreciate you considering Burns Garner Law Firm for your potential job injury claim.