Can I sue for a hernia due to lack of lift equipment and ramp?
(Washington, PA, USA)
I was taking care of a child in home health where there was no lift equipment or a ramp for access into the home. The agency and family knew this. I got an umbilical hernia because of it that reopened 8 weeks after I went back to work, resulting in a second surgery.
A ramp was built a month after my first surgery and a lift was made accessible after I was hurt the second time. I collected workman's comp while I was off for both surgeries. I left that case after my hernia ripped back open the second time, and now I'm having a hard time finding work.
Can I sue the agency or the parents for not providing the proper safety equipment? Are they liable? Thank you for any information you can give.
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ANSWER for "Can I sue for a hernia due to lack of lift equipment and ramp?":
Michelle (Washington, PA, USA):
Because you were employed at the time of your injury, and were working within the scope of your employment duties, you are likely unable to sue your employer for your injuries and related medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and/or lost wages.
To circumvent the workers' compensation process and sue your employer would require you to prove your employer was grossly negligent or displayed a wanton disregard for your safety and well-being. From the facts you present, their actions or omissions do not appear to rise to the level of gross negligence or a wanton disregard for your safety.
In the alternative, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Once you do, they will decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds to conduct an investigation of the incident and your employer's actions and omissions regarding safety standards.
You can access OSHA's complaint process here.
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,
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