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Explosions are always very sudden and do not give the worker notice or time to react to them. Oftentimes, explosions occur at a refinery and involve gas, fire and flames, chemicals spilling on to a job site. The worker can often have terrible injuries to their eyes and nose from inhaling dangerous chemicals. If fire is involved, the worker may have first, second, or third degree burns to pars of their body that are exposed to the flames. Like many construction accidents, a primary reason people are harmed from explosions stems from a company’s failure to properly train and maintain the jobsite.
Any time you have an explosion, in order to prevail in court, you must prove there was a duty, that duty was breached, and injuries stemmed from the breach of this duty. Oftentimes, the mere existence of an explosion suggests there was a breach of a safety duty. When there is an explosion, it is often because of liquids, vapors, fibers, gases or combustible dusts. These products can be found anywhere that gasoline is found and is often found in storage units, gas stations and hangers.
A common explosion at work sites often comes in the form of combustible dust explosions. These are often found in agriculture, chemicals, food, and plastics, to name just a few. In order to prevent dust explosions from happening, OSHA recommends carefully reviewing the operations that are performed at the jobsite, reviewing the potential ignition sources, and carefully examining all spaces that may have flammable potentialities.
If you have been injured on the job, you have one of two options in order to secure a recovery for your injuries. First, you may to be able to turn to L&I.
L&I stands for Labor and Industries and they are a division of Washington State. They will pay you a portion of your time loss and, if you are eligible, you can receive a financial settlement for your injuries, which is called a permanent partial disability award (PPD award). This amount is based on the percentage of your disability.
The particular thing about a L&I case is that you don’t have to prove that anyone was at fault. L&I does not care who was at fault. You can receive benefits from L&I regardless of who was at fault. Even you could be at fault. All that matters is that you were on the job when you got hurt. While the settlement you will receive L&I may not be much money, it can at least be something for you.
The second option you have is what is called a third party settlement. A third party settlement is only available when a party other than your employer caused your accident. So if there was another company, such as a general contractor, that was partly or entirely responsible for how the accident was created, then you can sue the general contractor just like you could sue someone who struck you with their car.
If you have to sue the general contractor, or a subcontractor, then you have to prove that they were somehow negligent and caused your injuries. This is very different from L&I obviously, where, again, you don’t have to prove fault. With a third party case, the burden of proof is on you. This means you may have to hire a certain kind of expert to prove your version of events are in fact correct. These cases may not be easy to win, but the financial reward may be much greater than with a L&I case.
If this second option is available to you, there is no reason why you can’t have both a L&I case and a third party case. The reason this is the case is that you are not suing your employer, which is not allowed when L&I is involved.
Instead, you’re suing a company other than your employer, which is allowed. However, L&I will likely ask that you repay a portion of your legal settlement that is reserved for medical bills back to L&I.
While the party that injured you, whether it be a general or subcontractor, may have violated any number of laws, it is important to identify at least one. In addition, you may be able to just point to the fact that the defendant either knew or should have known there was a problem with their worksite in terms of it not being safe.
If you have suffered an electric shock on the job and suffered serious injuries, feel free to speak to the Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation.
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