OT: Calling all MGoLawyers

Submitted by HAILtoBO on December 11th, 2018 at 5:13 PM

Good afternoon everyone

This past weekend my girlfriend suffered a very horrific accident at work. She suffered a major steam burn on her face and partial neck, which she was rushed to the hospital for. They ruled it between first and second degree. She works for a fortune 500 company, not some diner in the middle of no where. What happened was her and a fellow coworker were monitoring an oven. This employee is extremely difficult to work with and is disliked by many. He is also bipolar which creates more issues in the work environment. When my girlfriend asked for help to remove the food from the oven he basically told her to figure it out on her own and that he's not helping her. She began to explain to him how they're required to operate this together as a team to keep up with the demand. In a pissed off way he decided to help her. She watched him go to the backside of the oven and unscrew a release valve to release the steam from inside the oven. She finished what she was working on and then went back to the oven. As she opened the oven the steam rushed out of it and into her face. She was immediately burned and in pain. She rushed to the first aid kit to find burn gel. There was no burn gel in the first aid kit. She then ran to her supervisor and told her "I'm burned from the steam of the oven, I need burn gel." Her supervisor said, "why don't you take a 15 minute break to cool off and come back, you'll be fine." She explained back "I'm really burned badly. It hurts. I'm in a lot of pain." Her supervisor rolled her eyes and said "go take a break." She rushed to the break room and there was her manager. She asked her for burn gel. She looked up at her and her face went white. She said, "go to the store manager now. Your burned extremely bad. Go now." She ran to the store manager yelling at him "I'm burned from the steam of the ovens", he turned around and his jaw dropped. He then went into panic mode and screamed for another supervisor to take her immediately to the local urgent care. He stated that he will send all the proper paperwork to the urgent Care. Urgent Care immediately denied them and said they have to go to the hospital immediately. At the hospital they rushed her to ER without hesitation. Her face was slowly boiling and bursting with puss. The hospital later released her with Motrin and a burn gel prescription. A fellow employee called her later in the evening saying there was a huge meeting with all supervisors and repercussions will be made. It's been a couple of days now and we have not heard back from the company about anything...

 

We are not looking to pursue legal action against the company because of the necessity to keep health insurance. We also realize accidents do happen and think this is just a major one. In the past two days her face has swelled up tremendously but also has gone down with medicine. Her eye this morning swelled up like there was a golf ball on top of it. 

 

I would truly appreciate anyone's help with this. We are just puzzled as to what to do furthermore and looking to the best lawyers in the world for advice. Love you guys, have a great holiday and GO BLUE!!

Comments

m_go_T

December 11th, 2018 at 7:36 PM ^

This^^.  

I will also add that your GF should keep a journal about her recovery, including pains she experiences during her recover and things she is unable to do as a result of the injury. She should also write down a detailed account of what happened to her on the day of the accident as soon as possible, so as to do it while her memory is fresh. She should save all communications (i.e., texts, emails, etc.) from anyone affiliated with her employer as well.  If she can get a copy of their safety protocols/employee training materials/etc, she should do so.  

Also, if health insurance is the main concern, she can start looking for a new job.  She does not need to and probably would not file suit immediately.  After she is ready, she can quietly look for a new job while she continues to work at her current job.  

Finally, my two cents...I would 100% sue, unless she really wants to stay at this job for the rest of her life.  When I was in 7th grade, I had a bad accident on a local ski hill. I broke both my tibia and fibula on the smallest non-bunny hill, as a result of what I would describe as a pot hole near the bottom of the slope that someone had dug out probably the night before (it was my first run of the day and it was still very early).  When I got to the first aid area, they insisted it was a minor injury and they made me try to walk on it.  When I put all my weight on my leg, it was one of the most physically painful memories I can remember.  Because I was there with the community ed program, they refused to give me any pain medication.  Also, they did not attempt to call my parents to come pick me up. As I injured myself on the first run of the day, I sat in the "infirmary" for about seven hours, was carted on an office chair to the bus (repeatedly bumping my leg), and by the time we made it back to the drop off point and to my parents, I was unable to see an orthopedic specialist at the emergency room (Saturday nights I guess).  I spent over two months in a cast up to my thigh.  I couldn't participate in swimming for a whole season and I had a pretty crappy spring recovering.  In any event, even as a seventh grader, I knew I was about to get paid.  That was until my dad said "we are not suing anyone, that's not what we do."  Some 25 years later, I am still pissed that my dad didn't want to pursue legal action.  Their insurance would have paid out the claim and I would have had less student loans to worry about.  The point is, don't be worried about the repercussions of suing. Your GF will get money to help her cope with the awful injury.  It won't make the pain she's enduring now go away, but it will make her life a bit easier in the future.   

M Ascending

December 12th, 2018 at 9:15 AM ^

In addition to the very good advice above, she/you should take lots of photos of her condition before she heals.  A picture is worth as thousand words, and (unfortunately) gruesome photos of the victim are what connect with juries and get the highest damages awards.  And, yes, if everything you say is true, she should definitely sue.  

lbpeley

December 12th, 2018 at 7:24 AM ^

This is the best advice one can give.

But, you say you don't want to pursue legal action. Why are you looking for lawyers then? The employer should definitely be keeping your GF up to date on what's going on. She should also be calling them a couple times weekly if they aren't communicating enough.

OSHA should have been notified within 24 hrs. Workers Comp should be reimbursing her if there's enough time lost. Her company should be paying all medical fees. If your GF receives any bills from the hospital or wherever any follow up care comes from she simply needs to turn those into the company. 

What's Good Fo…

December 11th, 2018 at 5:19 PM ^

Definitely talk to a lawyer. But this will almost certainly be handled through the worker's compensation system, not a tort suit. So find someone who specializes in Worker's Comp. cases.

DrMantisToboggan

December 11th, 2018 at 5:20 PM ^

I’m a Doctor AND a lawyer (I’m only one of these things and nothing I post on this blog constitutes medical OR legal advice). 

But, as the first comment says, you need to find a lawyer that specializes in workplace injuries in your area. This is not my area of law, but, and again, this is not legal advice, I’m guessing that you don’t have much in the way of remedy here if you’re not willing to go after the company for not having proper first aid equipment on hand. I could be wrong though! Find a specialist in your state.

MGoJeff

December 11th, 2018 at 5:29 PM ^

I work at a law firm. Trust me, talk to an employee-side OSHA lawyer in your state. If you're in Ohio, I can probably get you a good referral.

RedHotAndBlue

December 11th, 2018 at 5:29 PM ^

If you know of any lawyers, ask them for a recommendation for a lawyer (1) in your area (or a major metro area close by), (2) who specializes in workplace injuries (as others have noted) and (3) if relevant, what you're willing to pay or that you want the lawyer to take it on contingency.

Almost every legal issue that can come up fits within a particular niche - both with respect to the area(s) of law implicated and geographically (both in terms of the substantive law and procedural steps).  You will want someone who really knows what they're doing to help you out.  Beware, however - unlike the medical profession, lawyers are not certified in specialty areas (other than some IP related issues) and almost every lawyer thinks they can do everything.  

Good luck to you and I hope your GF has a quick and complete recovery.

RedHotAndBlue

December 11th, 2018 at 9:38 PM ^

I'll eat some humble pie on this one.  Clarence is correct, though the level of certification from a state bar varies widely and does not cover every specialty and is not nearly as prevalent as the medical profession does.  Certainly if the area of law is one that the particular state certifies, that should be a consideration for the OP.  My only point is that a lawyer stating that they are an OSHA or workers' compensation specialist does not meant the same thing as a board certified thoracic surgeon - it is important to be diligent.

MgoHillbilly

December 11th, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

Call a worker's comp attorney and a personal injury attorney right away to get an understanding of the lay of the land  Do not have your wife give any further statements about what happened to anyone until after you've had your consults.  I'd be less concerned about the relationship your wife has with corporate and more concerned with seeing to it that she treats as thoroughly as possible so that you ultimately get the fairest amount of compensation for her losses. 

Keep a journal of all the ways this injury has affected your daily lives, including yours. Should you have grounds for a suit  you may have a claim for loss of consortium on top of your wife's damages. 

See the attorneys immediately. 

xtramelanin

December 11th, 2018 at 5:34 PM ^

guessing that worker's comp is her only claim, meaning her exclusive avenue of recovery or remedy.  no separate tort recovery.  tell her to find a local, reputable comp lawyer and go from there.   if no comp insurance (unlikely since you said fortune 500), then it sounds like painful but not life-changing injuries - hope i'm right about that.  it is a bad fact pattern for the company but they lucked out in a sense.  

You Only Live Twice

December 11th, 2018 at 10:57 PM ^

Some experience with WC, agreeing this is the most likely avenue.

Write down everything (sounds like you are already doing so) and date each record.

Continue to monitor the company's handling of everything, take care of your wife and if you are thinking of legal action, take advantage of the free consultations that many firms provide.

Mike Damone

December 11th, 2018 at 5:37 PM ^

1) Use your best and most trusted resources to find referrals on good attorneys specializing in workers comp.  Avoid taking advice from anyone who has a demented clown as an avatar.

2) Find 3-5 attorneys to interview - do NOT go with only one just because you only have one referral.  Use lawyers.com or some other resource to get more than one.

3) Before you interview the attorneys - research them, research them again - and when you are done - research them some more.  Be highly prepared when you interview with them.

4) Combined with the results on the research and check of their background - choose the one that you feel confidence in and who treats your wife, you and others with respect.

 

All I got - good luck!

evenyoubrutus

December 11th, 2018 at 5:37 PM ^

The employer has already consulted with their lawyers on this situation. I suggest you do the same. 

Having said that, she needs to go back to the doctor and also make sure you have all the necessary worker's comp information. If she doesn't comply with doctors you're going to have a tough time doing anything legally.

rockydude

December 11th, 2018 at 6:05 PM ^

As another of the board's many lawyers, I'd like to add on to Brutus' point. Often, people think that the company's attorney is looking out for them. They are not. Whether in-house, or outside counsel, a company attorney is working for the good of the company, and only of the company. Don't for any reason fall for anything that anyone says to you implying that they are looking out for you. They aren't. Trust only yourselves, and possibly an attorney that works for you and you only.

And don't talk to anyone or in any way give out information, let alone agree to anything. Keep your mouths shut. If anyone wants to talk, tell them you can't do that without counsel present. Talking can't help you, but it can really screw you.