What are my rights if I got burned from a oxygen tank blew up in my workplace?

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What are my rights if I got burned from a oxygen tank blew up in my workplace?

A friend of mine got 1st, 2nd and in some spots, 3rd degree burns on his arms, neck and chest. He’s on workman comp but he is afraid that when he gets better and goes back to work the thought of that might happen again. Can he sue for mental anguish or something?

Asked on August 30, 2013 under Personal Injury, Arkansas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I suggest that you consult with a worker's compensation attorney who has experience in perosnal injury matters as well where the manufacturer of the oxygen tank could be a target defendant. Emotional distress would be part of the damages. I also suggest a complaint with occupational health to look into the cause of the incident.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

While it's probably worthwhile for your friend to discuss the situation in depth with a personanl injury attorney, since every case has its own complexities and unique issues, as a general matter, no--your friend could not sue his employer for two reasons:

1) First and most importantly, Worker's Compensation, when an employee receives it for a work- or workplace-related injury, is generally the only recourse against the employer; the employee gives up the right to sue in accepting the Worker's Compensation. The trade off is that while he cannot sue, he receives compensation without the cost, delay, and uncertainty of litigation.

2) Generally, there is no recovery for mental anguish when the accident is the result of simple negligence, or carelessness; there usually has to be something more, like gross recklessness or an intention to cause injury/suffering, to support this sort of compensation. It is unlikely that the necessary bad motive or recklessness exists here--cases like this typically turn on simple negligence.

However, it may be possible to sue the oxygen tank manufacturer, if there was anything defective in its design and/or manufacture, for losses or injuries which exceed the amount of Worker's Compensation he's receiving; this is something it would be worthwhile to discuss with the personal injury attorney.


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