A Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) worker was sent out to clean the bed of a Heil Sidewinder Salt and Sand Spreader dump truck getting ready to take on duties for the winter. A conveyer chain system, used to move materials from inside the bed to the other side of a discharge chute, was left exposed.
This worker was climbing into the truck bed while the conveyer chain was running, and slipped on the chain, snagging her left boot. Once her lower leg was pulled into the machine, it amputated below the knee. Additionally, she required another amputation above the knee.
In her lawsuit, she claimed that the exposed conveyer chain created a hazard, and the manufacturers should have designed it without hazard or included a guard to cover the exposed chain, as well as an emergency or stop/start button. She also contended that the truck body lacked adequate warnings. Before trial, the manufacturers settled for an undisclosed amount; however, they remained on the verdict form while trial continued against the company who sold the truck. This company alleged that the worker was negligent for climbing into the truck bed while the conveyer was running, in addition to following the DOT training requirements, as well as the OSHA.
The victim was fitted with a bionic leg, and incurred past medical bills in excess of $600,000, in addition to her estimated $900,000 future medical expenses.
The jury said the worker was 38% at fault, the company who sold the truck was 36% liable, and the manufacturer was 26% liable. The jury awarded $3.69 million, including around $1.5 million in noneconomic damages. Workers’ compensation limitations asserted a $700,000 lien.
For more information, contact a Gacovino & Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).