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Matthew D. Kaplan

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, research estimates say as much as 47% of jobs “could be automated in the future.” Human workers are (and will continue to be) exposed to certain dangers that result from sharing a workspace with robots. When you are hurt (or a loved one is killed) at work because a machine did not perform as it should, your family may be entitled to hold certain entities accountable through a civil action based on negligence in the way they designed, manufactured, programmed, tested, and inspected their machines. These kinds of lawsuits require very specific legal knowledge, so it is wise to consult with an experienced Oregon industrial accident lawyer about your situation.

Nine years ago this month, a fatal workplace accident went “viral” on social media after a robot at an automotive plant grabbed a worker and crushed him against a metal plate. (Sadly, the story’s virality was less about the important issue (workplace safety,) and more about the reporter’s name, a near-match with the fictional heroine in a famous movie about killer robots.)

Robot-related worker injuries and deaths remain a problem. Last November, a robot at a vegetable packing plant in South Korea crushed a worker to death after the machine grabbed him and pressed him against a conveyor belt.

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As OregonLive reported earlier this month, Portland’s public pools (excluding Montavilla) opened on June 20. For many, this date represents the beginning of the summer recreation season. In addition to the area’s public pools, private swimming pools represent a source of fun and activity for many. They also can be catastrophically dangerous if the owner fails to take proper safety precautions. These failures can lead to children suffering life-altering or fatal injuries. While we all hope never to be in the position of needing legal counsel in the wake of a child’s catastrophic or fatal injuries, these tragedies do happen and, when they do, experienced Oregon premises liability lawyers are here to provide the answers you need.

The start of another summer recreation season is an excellent time to look at the laws and regulations regarding pool safety, as a failure to block children’s access to an unattended pool can have tragic results.

A news report from the Toledo, Ohio, area is illustrative. Last October, a 4-year-old boy and his 2-year-old brother wandered away from their home. Police returned the older boy to his mother but later found the toddler at the bottom of a neighbor’s pool. Resuscitation efforts were not successful.

Drivers not obeying traffic signals is a problem nationwide. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 1.149 people died in crashes where someone ran a red light in 2022. Even when the results are not fatal, these accidents often cause massive or catastrophic injuries to people who were driving safely when they were hit. While suing someone who ran a red light and hurt you might seem simple, these cases usually are complex and nuanced, which is why you should contact an experienced Oregon auto accident lawyer if you’ve been injured by one of these drivers.

A crash from Roseburg is a recent example of how serious running red lights can be. According to a report from KQEN news radio, a 20-year-old man in a Ford F550 pickup truck was heading “eastbound on Oak Street through a red light” when a 69-year-old man in a Toyota Prius struck the side of the truck.
The driver of the Prius died at the scene.

According to a study by the American Automobile Foundation from a few years ago, the incidence of fatalities in red-light-running crashes is higher in Oregon (1.7 per million) than in either Washington (1.2) or Idaho (0.7). Additionally, the study found that drivers running red lights in Oregon posed an especially high danger to bicyclists and pedestrians. Those two groups comprised 12.9% of all people killed by drivers who ran red lights, which was the third-highest rate in the country.

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Workers in Oregon should be entitled to safe workplaces where they can complete their responsibilities and then return home to family, friends, and loved ones. Too often, that doesn’t happen. Workers may receive insufficient training, inadequate supervision, or machinery that lacks proper safety protections. When a serious injury results, the worker may have a civil claim under Oregon law. If that is you or a loved one, an experienced Oregon industrial accident lawyer can offer invaluable information and advice about this area of the law and how it might apply to your situation.

An unsafe workplace led to a catastrophic injury to one man in Hermiston, according to a lawsuit he filed recently. Willamette Week reported that D. R.-P. was working the night shift at a food “upcycling” facility when a damp package jammed a shredder machine. Based on earlier instructions from the supervisor, the man jumped onto the conveyor belt to free the problematic package. When he did so, he fell into the shredder’s cutting blades, which severely mangled his legs.

The lawsuit, which the man filed here in Multnomah County, alleges many forms of substandard safety. The safety training the man received was deficient and the company failed to adopt safety protocols, the complaint claimed.

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Workers today utilize machines to perform (or facilitate) a broad spectrum of tasks. Machines are essential to the success of many industrial and manufacturing operations. For the human workers in those facilities, their safety hinges in large part on those machines being in proper condition. An unsafe machine can pose all manner of risks that can disfigure, maim, or kill workers. If the entities who were responsible for that machine’s manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and repair were not the injured worker’s employer, then the worker has the opportunity, with the aid of an experienced Oregon industrial accident lawyer, to sue that third party (or parties) for their negligent acts (or inaction) and recoup essential compensation through the civil justice system.

The National Institutes of Health found that, from 1992-2010, an average of 770 workers died each year in “occupational fatalities involving machinery.” One cause of these accidents is substandard equipment. A machine that was defectively manufactured, installed improperly, or not maintained or repaired correctly is a machine that has the potential to kill workers.

Allegedly, that was the basis of a tragic workplace death just outside Medford. The deceased man, F.E., was a contractor hired by a company that allegedly was in the business of extracting hash oil from marijuana. The process required using an extraction machine system and butane as a solvent, and the company hired F.E. to install the system. F.E. and others spotted a leak during the installation process, according to the estate’s lawsuit. Everyone evacuated but when the contractor and one other man re-entered the warehouse, a massive explosion allegedly ensued. The contractor suffered widespread burn injuries that proved fatal.

A fatal accident west of Corvallis is a tragic yet important illustration that not all fatal vehicle accidents are created equal from a legal standpoint. All wrongful death cases arising from vehicle crashes can benefit from the services of a skilled Oregon wrongful death lawyer but some are especially complex, requiring extra steps and faster action.

The crash occurred in Yachats (a small coastal city about three hours southwest of Portland) and involved a 25-year-old woman driving her compact SUV northbound on Highway 101.

At the same time, an ambulance was turning left from a fire station driveway to enter the highway’s southbound lanes and respond to a high-priority call at a nearby assisted living facility. The two vehicles collided and the impact killed K.S., the mother-of-two who was driving the SUV.

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Ten people died while in custody at the Multnomah County Jail in 2022 and 2023, as compared to zero deaths in the preceding two years. Too many times, preventable deaths – whether here locally or elsewhere – are the result of protocols not being followed or people otherwise not doing their jobs. When that kind of failure leads to an inmate or detainee’s death, that could represent a federal civil rights violation. For the families of those inmates/detainees, restorative justice may be available by pursuing legal action, aided by representation from an experienced Oregon civil rights lawyer.

One of those detainees who died in the Multnomah County Jail in 2022 was Stephen Murphy, who was awaiting trial on federal drug charges. At the time a fellow inmate found him unresponsive, the man was suffering from severe internal bleeding. A coroner’s autopsy discovered that the detainee had a tumor in his liver that had burst.

The sheriff’s department initially listed Murphy’s cause of death as “natural causes,” but later changed it to “overdose.” Willamette Week reported that Murphy had 7.4 ng/ml of fentanyl in his blood when he died. (The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Medical Examiner considers 3 ng/ml or more enough to list overdose as a patient’s cause of death, in the absence of any other diseases.)

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Insufficient medical treatment inside detention facilities is a significant issue around the country, including in Oregon’s jails and prisons. One major problem, a byproduct of the nationwide opioid epidemic, is an ever-increasing number of people entering lockup amid addiction. Whether as a result of a lack of diligence or a lack of knowledge, too many staff at lockups are failing to meet the needs of these detainees/inmates, and inmate deaths often are the result. The failure to treat conditions promptly and properly may constitute a violation of an inmate/detainee’s civil rights, in which case swiftly consulting an Oregon civil rights lawyer is an essential move.

Another area of substantial concern is mental health. Not only are substance withdrawal and mental health both major areas of concern, but they are also frequently interconnected. Medical researchers, including those with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the British Medical Association, have published significant research reporting on the link between the sudden disuse of opioids and suicide, as well as suicide as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal.

A case from Deschutes County focuses on those issues and, allegedly, a jail’s failure to provide appropriate treatment to an inmate with them.

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Many people think Oregon follows a “one bite” free rule before imposing owner liability in a dog attack case. That’s untrue; Oregon law generally holds dog owners strictly liable for attack injuries if the dog(s) had aggressive tendencies or a history of violence. That may mean a history of aggressive actions (like launching or attempted attacks.) Strict liability also can apply if the dog’s breed is one “that is known to be aggressive or dangerous.” Even if the dog wasn’t an aggressive breed and even if the dog lacked a history of violence, you still can hold the owner accountable if the owner failed to reasonably control his/her dog. After you’ve endured major injuries in an animal bite case, be sure to consult a knowledgeable Oregon lawyer who is experienced in dog attack matters to discuss your legal rights and options.

Northeast Portland was the site of one such dog attack in December. There, two Great Dane-Mastiff mix dogs mauled a 6-year-old boy to death inside the dog owner’s home.

In this local case, the dog owner was also the homeowner. However, in many cases, the dogs that attack belong to renters. That was the circumstance in a recent California case where two pit bulls attacked a woman in Los Angeles County. A state court of appeal said that, under California law, a dog attack victim can hold a landlord liable if the victim proves that the landlord had “actual knowledge of the tenacious dog’s vicious nature.”

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Oregon is the state with the largest number of logging businesses. (Washington is #5.) That fact alone should tell you that drivers on Oregon’s highways and byways often share the road with large logging trucks and trailers. These businesses require specially trained drivers and carefully maintained vehicles to ensure safety. That’s because when a logging truck crash happens, the results are often fatal. When a lack of proper attention to safety leads to deadly results, it is wise to contact an experienced Oregon wrongful death lawyer about your situation and needs.

A few years ago, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) published a study analyzing logging truck crashes. The study found that, during the years assessed, logging truck crashes nationwide were up 33% and fatal ones up 41%.

As a prolific logging state, Oregon is home to many logging truck accidents. Sometimes, these crashes involve errors by other drivers, like turning in front of a logging truck or losing control in bad weather and sliding into a logging truck’s lane. Many times, though, these crashes result from issues related to the logging truck or truck driver, such as when a logging truck loses its load onto the roadway or the driver loses control of the truck.

50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email: matthew@mdkaplanlaw.com
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