Negligence After Workman's Comp Case Was Closed...

by Lisa
(Greenville, SC)

About a year ago, I had an accident on one of the machines at my former job. I lost most of my left pinky finger on my left hand. Long story short...Me and a co-worker were running a machine called an addresser. We print addresses on post cards and things like that. I was at the catching end at the conveyor belt. I went to reach for the mail and my pinky stopped the machine. We pulled it out and well, the rest is imaginable.

The reason why my pinky was able to reach the gears it got caught on was because earlier at some point (not sure when), my previous supervisor took off the safety plate because it was bent and rubbing the rollers. In my mind that is negligence.

If the plate or guard was on then there was no way my finger could fit where the gears were. I had a workman's comp case and we settled about two weeks ago. My lawyer at the time knew I wanted to pursue this, but I was trying to do one thing at a time. They understood.

Now, they couldn't help me with the negligence case so they suggested someone else. I have spoken to three different lawyers here in Greenville, SC and no one will touch this case. They said since I signed off on workman's comp I released everyone of any further action towards my injury.

I don't understand why I am not able to pursue this? Could you help me understand if I have a case of negligence or not against my former employer?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Negligence After Workman's Comp Case Was Closed...":

Often times a "Release" which is signed at settlement does, in fact, release all parties for any future liability. So the question is within the wording of the documents that you signed. There are ways to technically undue or set-aside agreements based upon mistake, inadvertence or neglect of either the party or his attorney, but it really would depend on the language that you agreed to.

You may not want to go down this road, but there may also be some liability with your attorney if you explained your intentions and your attorney failed to adequately pursue all causes of action available to you at the time of your accident.

As an aside, you are correct that your employer's failure to return the safety guard to the machine was negligent and created the dangerous condition that caused your injury. That is without question. But, in order to fully assess whether you have any additional claims, your "release" must be reviewed.

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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