Workers’ Comp for Defective Equipment Injury

This video features Rebecca K. Halberg, a Workers' Compensation attorney based in Georgia.

Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Explains Your Options

Video Transcript:

Rebecca Halberg: 

Workers’ comp laws are very straightforward, that if you're injured at work, that you should be covered by workers' compensation, even if it's defective equipment.

Tom Mustin: 

If you've been injured by a defective equipment on the job, what are your options? We're gonna talk to attorney Rebecca Halberg about that, on today's episode of Ask The Lawyer. Rebecca, thanks for joining us.

Rebecca Halberg: 

Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Tom Mustin: 

Good to talk to you, as always. Now, in your practice, have you seen situations where defective equipment was the cause of a work accident? And can you give us a few examples?

Rebecca Halberg: 

Absolutely. I've had several cases where there was defective equipment involved. I met a pretty serious one a few years ago. My client worked at a carpet manufacturer up in North Georgia, and his arm was pulled into one of the machines. That was certainly one of the more extreme cases. He had a crush injury. You oftentimes see it with defective or sometimes manipulated saws or equipment that an employer has modified for purposes of the job.

Tom Mustin: 

And who's responsible for making sure that the equipment and the tools that are being used on the job by people are properly maintained and are safe?

Rebecca Halberg: 

Typically it's the employer. Some employers do hire out their maintenance to other companies. And so it's potentially an employer issue, but it could also be a different third party that was responsible for maintaining the equipment.

Tom Mustin: 

If there's a situation where a worker is injured by defective equipment, is that employee entitled to workers' comp in Georgia?

Rebecca Halberg: 

Absolutely. Workers' comp laws are very straightforward, that if you're injured at work, that you should be covered by workers’ compensation even if it's defective equipment. But it certainly opens up the possibility for a third party case.

Tom Mustin: 

Well, and tell us what kind of compensation the person is entitled to? And does it matter who's at fault in that case?

Rebecca Halberg: 

Absolutely. So if it's workers' compensation, then they would be covered, essentially, for lost wages while they were out of work, workers' comp would cover their medical treatment, and then if they had permanent injuries, they would get something called permanent disability. Now, if there was a third-party case, it would open it up to additional compensation for pain and suffering.

Tom Mustin: 

So tell us how that third-party case process works.

Rebecca Halberg: 

Absolutely. With the third-party cases, particularly with the defective equipment scenario, it's important that the initial investigation and research is done from the get-go. So if, for example, if someone is injured and they think it was the result of defective equipment on their job, they would immediately want to reach out to an attorney. Because that attorney would want to make sure that the equipment was preserved, request OSHA reports, take pictures and make sure they can locate the model number. 'Cause all of that information can easily... Let's say, for example, the employer got rid of the equipment, that would make the case difficult because it would be hard to retrace what it was and what caused the actual accident.

Tom Mustin: 

Is the compensation in a third-party case due to one of... This kind of case, different than what they'd receive in workers' comp?

Rebecca Halberg: 

It is, and it would be in addition to that compensation. So if someone was injured at work as a result of defective equipment, they would have a workers' compensation claim against their employer. But if there were another party that was responsible for the maintenance, or if it was a faulty... There was faulty equipment or bad design from the very beginning, there may be a third-party case against whoever maintained the equipment or who designed the equipment.

Tom Mustin: 

Now, I'm sure a lot of folks are looking to save money. Can a person bring about a third-party case by themselves without using an attorney?

Rebecca Halberg: 

They could. I definitely don't recommend it. And particularly, products liability cases can be very difficult. And so, I've got two or three firms that are my go-tos in Georgia, that If I... From the very beginning of the workers' compensation claim, if I think that there's a products liability case, I just get them involved at the very beginning.

Tom Mustin: 

How is an attorney paid in a case like that? Just curious.

Rebecca Halberg: 

They're paid the same way that they are in workers compensation claims. And so, essentially what that means is there's no upfront fee, but they pay a percentage at the end based on whatever their contract says.

Tom Mustin: 

Well, a lot of great information, as always, Rebecca. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Rebecca Halberg: 

Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Tom Mustin: 

And that's gonna do it for this episode of Ask The Lawyer. My guest has been Rebecca Halberg. If you wanna ask Rebecca about your situation, call the number you see on the screen. Thanks for watching. I'm Tom Mustin, for Ask The Lawyers.

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