One 43-year-old Ohio employee suffered an injury that would forever change his life, but also received a verdict that could change the face of Ohio workplace injury lawsuits.
The young man had worked as an apprentice lineman for L.E. Myers Co. when he reached out his hand and came in contact with an electrical wire that had 7,200 volts running through it. The contact caused an electrical shock to run through his body and resulted in first-, second- and third-degree burns.
Under an Ohio Law enacted in 2005, employees were only entitled to receive workers' compensation after they had suffered a workplace injury. They could only recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit after proving that there was a willful intent to injure by their employer.
The 43-year-old man defied and challenged that law when he filed a personal injury lawsuit against his employer and a jury awarded him several thousand dollars. "Even under the really heightened standard, the jury was obviously offended by the employer's conduct," said the president of the Ohio Association of Justice.
The 2005 laws standard is based upon the definition of "deliberate intent," a standard that Ohio attorneys say can be practically impossible to prove. The past president of the Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys said that a deliberate failure to provide the required safety gloves for an employee, such as the victim, who works around high power lines is as deliberate as the removal of a safety guard from what would be considered a dangerous machine.
Source: Cleveland.com "Verdict challenges Ohio law limiting employers' liability for workplace injuries" Alison Grant 12/8/10