Broke elbow at work from hitting pipe sticking out of the floor...

by Cyndi

My husband was injured at work a month ago while driving a electric truck. He hit a pipe sticking out of the floor from where they once had a machine that they removed but never took the piping out. There was no caution tape or hazard cones in area. He ended up breaking his elbow and hurting his knee.

The knee healed but the arm is now unable to extend fully straight and is disfigured, it always stays bent. Will workers comp offer a settlement for his injury or should he sue for negligence? The physical therapist told him his arm will never be right again.

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ANSWER for "Broke elbow at work from hitting pipe sticking out of the floor...":

Cyndi (MA):

Unfortunately under workers compensation laws in the State of Massachusetts, and all other states, an injured worker can't sue his or her employer for negligence resulting from an on-the-job injury. Your husband's case will be strictly a workers compensation one.

As you may know, workers comp benefits are limited to the payment of all necessary medical bills, the costs of diagnostic tests, out of pocket expenses for medications, the cost of transportation to and from treatment, etc., and about two thirds of your husband's lost wages while he is treating and recovering.

There is another remote possibility where negligence might play a role in permitting your husband to sue for his medical bills, out of pocket expenses, all his lost wages, and for his pain and suffering. If the machine was removed by a company other than your husband's employer, your husband might be able to sue that company for negligence.

The bad news is even if your husband is able to sue the outside company, any settlement or court award he might receive would be subject to a lien from workers comp. Fortunately, because workers comp doesn't pay ALL lost wages, nor any amount for pain and suffering, your husband would be able to retain all money paid for his pain and suffering, and the difference in the amount of lost wages.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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