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Can I Sue Someone if I Am Hurt on the Job as A Result of Defective Machines or Equipment?

Steven Kluender
Written by: Steven Kluender

You cannot sue your employer as a result of your employer’s negligence because under Wisconsin law your exclusive remedy against your employer is worker’s compensation benefits. If, however, you can show that someone else other than your employer is responsible for your injuries, you may sue that person or entity.

Senior man feeding metal into machine

Assume, for example, that you have sustained injuries at work as a result of a defective and unreasonably dangerous machine. Perhaps the machine was not guarded in a critical place and you injured one of your limbs as a result. Even though you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits for such an injury, you are also entitled to commence a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of the machine if you can establish that the machine is defective and unreasonably dangerous because it did not have guard and that the defective and unreasonable condition caused your injuries. In addition, as opposed to the worker’s compensation system, which is a no-fault legal system, you will have to prove that the manufacturer of the machine is at least as negligent if not more negligent than you. If it is established that you are more negligent than the manufacturer of the machine, you will recover nothing in a lawsuit. However, your damages are theoretically unlimited in a lawsuit as opposed to worker’s compensation benefits which are severely limited. In a lawsuit against a manufacturer of a defective and unreasonably dangerous machine, you are entitled to the full amount of your wage loss and loss of future wages, and you are entitled to the full amount of your past and future pain, suffering and disability. Your spouse is also entitled to damages for the loss of your society and companionship.

Keep in mind, however, that cases such as these, often called product liability lawsuits, are extremely expensive and complicated to pursue. You should always retain a law firm competent and experienced in such cases, keeping in mind that it can cost thousands of dollars to hire appropriate expert witnesses to establish that the machine was defective and to establish the complete nature and extent of your injuries.

If you have questions about worker’s compensation, personal injury, or social security disability, please feel free to call The Previant Law Firm at 414-203-0514 or 920-903-3000.

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