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Personal Injury Case Study #5 (Work Site Injury)

Our client, a Viet Nam War veteran suffering post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by a severe injury to his dominant hand, settled his claim against the German builder of the machine for $300,000.  This settlement is in addition to monies already paid to our client by his workers’ compensation claims administrator approaching $175,000.  He resolved his claim against the construction contractor responsible for maintaining the machine for $150,000.

Our client was employed as a millwright at a papermill at a community near Duluth when he was called to service a papermachine recently the subject of some extensive testing and maintenance by an outside construction contracting firm.  After the outside contractor had completed its work on the machine, it departed the mill’s premises, leaving the machine in a partially-assembled state that prevented the machine from being operated properly.  When the operator noticed difficulty with the machine, our client and his millwright crew were summoned to determine and repair the problem.

Our client was injured as he began repairing the machine when one of the rolls came loose and smashed his right hand.  Ultimately, efforts to save one of the fingers failed and it had to be amputated.  Two of the others have no feeling or motor control and are useless.  The injury aggravated our client’s post-traumatic stress disorder from his service as a combat infantryman in Viet Nam, rendering him permanently totally disabled.

After substantial workers’ compensation monies were paid for medical expenses and weekly wage loss benefits, our client decided to settle the balance of his workers’ compensation claim and file for social security disability benefits and pension benefits.  A total of nearly $175,000 in workers’ compensation benefits were paid our client, including the settlement.

Suit was commenced in U.S. District Court in Duluth against the German firm that had built the machine at the mill and the outside contracting firm that had left the machine in the hazardous condition when it left the premises.  The insurer for the German firm paid the $300,000.  The suit against the outside contractor was settled for $150,000, bringing the total amount paid on account of this injury to $625,000.