Fatal Workplace Accidents in Oregon Involving Machine or Equipment Malfunctions

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.

Numerous Possibly Liable Parties

This case shows how a fatal workplace accident may, after proper investigation, implicate multiple potentially liable parties. The lawsuit filed by F.E.’s mother listed numerous defendants, including the “companies that sold extraction materials to” the client. A severe or fatal industrial accident involving a malfunctioning machine often happens because one or more parts of the machine were designed defectively or made incorrectly, and did not perform as they should have. In those scenarios, the designers, makers, and/or sellers of the machine component may be legally liable for the harm the malfunction caused. Other times, your case requires suing the designer, manufacturer, or seller of the machine itself.

Additionally, the party directing F.E. was his client, not his employer. This distinction is very important because Oregon law generally does not allow injury (or death) lawsuits against employers, instead limiting those workers (or workers’ families) to seeking justice through the workers’ compensation system. (This is called the “exclusive remedy” rule.) In this case, the defendants were not F.E.’s employers, so the exclusive remedy rule did not apply and the estate’s case could proceed in civil court.

Third-party industrial accident cases have the potential to be complex and nuanced. The difference between obtaining justice and not often is legal counsel who’s well-versed in these matters. The knowledgeable Oregon industrial accident attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC have the specialized experience that only comes from handling numerous industrial accident cases. Call (503) 226-3844 today or contact us online to set up your free consultation and find out how we can help you seek justice for your loss.

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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