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Jury finds company partially liable for disabling work accident

Most workers in Missouri are covered by the workers' compensation insurance fund. The fund's objective is to provide financial aid to workers who suffer workplace injuries. Workers are prohibited from filing a claim against their employers unless a third party is found to have been responsible for the work accident. The only monetary compensation an injured worker can commonly expect from workers' compensation covers medical expenses and lost wages. However, a civil claim against a third party may lead to additional compensation, such as pain and suffering, along with other damages allowed under state laws.

A jury in a civil lawsuit in another state recently awarded a work accident victim and his wife damages of $21.3 million when a third party was found to have been partially responsible for the disabling injuries suffered by the worker. The workplace accident occurred in April 2006 when the man was occupied with an electrical project that formed part of a construction job. The electric motor of a garage door apparently self-activated, pinning the worker between the roof of the building and the door. The motor eventually failed, and the door closed, causing the man to fall approximately 14 feet before landing headfirst on the ground.

The worker suffered traumatic spinal injuries that left him paralyzed below his chest. The victim accused the company that was responsible for inspecting and repairing the garage door and its motor of negligence in performing its duties. The jury awarded a total of $30.5 million in damages but apportioned only 70 percent of responsibility to the garage door company.

Missouri workers who have suffered injuries in a work accident are entitled to claim benefits from the workers' compensation fund. If there was a third party who could partially or entirely be held responsible, a personal injury claim could be filed in a civil court -- in addition to the workers' compensation benefits claim. This could be a complicated process, and many workers benefit from a consultation with a workers' compensation attorney to guide their pursuance of damage recovery.

Source: indystar.com, "Jury awards $21.3 million to Indy man injured in garage door accident", Tim Evans, Oct. 8, 2014

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