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Injured worker awarded $6M for severed arm

A Midland County jury awarded a Texas man more than $6 million after his arm was severed in a work-related accident. After a work related injury, victims should report all injuries and work with experienced advocates who can identify the cause of the accident and determine the individuals and entities at fault.

The 50-year-old worker suffered from mental disability and was working at an occupational program when he lost his left arm below the elbow in a paper baler. The jury awarded the victim $6,129,083.19 for his injury finding the employer and the recycling company that furnished the paper baler each 50 percent responsible.

The paper baler is an industrial compactor that baled recycled paper for transport. Testimony presented at trial demonstrated that the baler should not have functioned when the loading gate was open. Reports indicated that someone had bypassed the safety sensor, creating unnecessary risk and danger to employees.

According to lawyers for the plaintiff, the victim will only be able to recover half of what was awarded after the trial. The damages assessed against the employer will not be recovered because the agency had workers' compensation insurance. Workers compensation is intended to protect employers against liability, even if they are to blame for the accident and injury. A workers' compensation claim requires medical proof of injury, but the victim does not have to prove fault. Under Texas law, if an entity carries workers' compensation insurance, they are not responsible for any judgment.

The recycling company that furnished the paper baler will still be liable for the judgment. The victim's medical bills were paid by the employer's workers' comp insurance.

Source: My West Texas, "Jury awards $6M to man whose arm was severed in workplace accident ," July 27, 2012.

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