Workers’ Comp Peril for a Double Amputee

The sub-headline in Andrew Wolfson’s story tells it all about the perils of workers’ compensation for injured and ill workers:

It’s either meager benefits or nearly impossible suit.” 

The Louisville-Courier Journal reporter’s May 19 article describes both the physical and economic challenges faced by William D. “Billy” Parker, who lost both arms four months ago in a drywall shedding machine while working at Six Sigma Inc. in Jeffersontown, KY.   Mr. Parker, 39, is a single father, raising his 15-year old son (who now cooks the meals at home and, every morning, applies deodorant under his dad’s arms.)

Wolfson relays the “vexing dilemma” faced by the disabled worker:

“Should he take the meager benefits available from workers’ compensation–possibly as little as $546 a week, or two-thirds of his pay?…or should he risk getting nothing at all by rejecting workers’ comp and suing his employer?  Under Kentucky workers’ comp law, an employee can only successfully sue his employer for a workplace injury if he can prove his company deliberately intended for him to be harmed.”

“…in Kentucky, the law is so strict, the Kentucky Supreme Court held in 2004, that knowingly putting an employee in harm’s way isn’t enough to win a lawsuit, even if the employer knew it might kill a worker.  Ruling 4-3, the court affirmed the dismissal of a $2.7 million jury verdict returned in Hopkins County for the estate of a 21-year old construction worker who suffocated when he was buried alive in a trench cave-in.”

Read the full story here.

Comments

  1. #1 Frank Mirer
    May 22, 2007

    Can’t find Six Sigma on the OSHA enforcement website.

    The machine is said to be a “dry wall shredder.” The newspaper article says this tragedy happened during a repair. Assuming this machine is like a wood chipper, isn’t there supposed to be an interlock when the hopper or chute is removed? There are ANSI standards for this equipment. The interlocks reduce or eliminate the possibility that failure to lockout will result in injury.

    Sounds like a products case to me, rather than trying to climb over the comp bar. Where is the litigious society when you need it.