Category Archives: third party

When active shooter drills lead to workplace injuries

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The United States has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the developed world. Unfortunately the workplace is no sanctuary from this violence.

Many workplaces, schools in particular, participate in active shooter drills. But an active shooter drill at a school in Indiana lead to more workplace violence.

As reported in Splinter, teachers in Monticello, Indiana were shot “execution style” with pellet guns by sheriff’s deputies participating in a mass shooter drill. Indiana teachers have helped introduce legislation outlawing that practice.

The practice of shooting people with pellet guns during active shooter drills raises a few legal issues. True to the title of this blog, any physical injury caused by being shot with a pellet gun during a workplace active shooter drill would be covered under workers’ compensation. At least in Nebraska any mental injury stemming from the phyiscal injury should be covered under workers’ compensation as well.

Workers’ compensation pays limited benefits regardless of fault of the employee or employer. Workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering or generally punish employers for bad conduct. But an employee can bring a so-called third-party case if the conduct of someone other than the employer caused the injury. In the Indiana case, it was a county sheriff who shot the teachers with pellet guns.

So, the injured teachers and school workers could bring a case for intentional assault or possibly even a civil rights case against the sheriff’s department. Of course any state actor responsible for an injury has some protections under sovereign immunity for their misconduct. (Sovereign immunity usually is not an issue in workers’ compensation)

Besides being compensated for physical and mental injuries, an employee who is intentionally injured in an active shooter drill may have employment law concerns as well. In my experience, an employer dumb enough to let their employees be assaulted would be bird-brained enough to retaliate against an employee who made a workers’ compensation claim for the injury. That same employer would probably also retaliate against an employee who reported safety concerns to an outside agency like OSHA.

In a public school setting, the school would have some defenses in an employment law case via sovereign immunity. But public schools are generally unionized and unions can be a great resource for employees who are intentionally assaulted on the job.  As mentioned above, the teachers union in Indiana supported legislation to ban the practice of shooting people with pellet guns during active shooter drills. Solid union representation can also help protect employees who speak out against unsafe practices in the workplace.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in civil rights, Nebraska, third party, Workers' Compensation and tagged .

Something old, something new: The 737 Max and the future of workplace safety

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The aftermath of the Ethiopian Air 737 Max crash that killed 157 people

Even as workplace injuries decline, new threats to workplace safety are emerging. The recent crash of an Ethiopian Air 737 Max highlighted on emerging safety risk.

Safety experts attributed the crash to the 737 Max to using modern software to control machinery that was designed as long as 50 years ago. Experts believe that so-called control software works much better when it is designed together with the machinery it is meant to control.

But purchasing new machinery is expensive for business. (Or it cuts into returns for wealthy investors.) Control software is seen as a cost-saving hack.

In the case of the Ethiopian Air crash 157 crew members and passengers lost their lives. Thankfully not all accidents from using 2019 software to control 1969 machinery will be as fatal as the Ethiopian Air crash. But nonetheless accidents from industrial machinery can be gruesome and disabling even if they don’t make international news.

Obviously injuries caused by this slapdash industrial technology would be covered under workers’ compensation laws. But other laws would certainly come into play as well.

Workers who report problems with unsafe technology can bring whistleblower claims. Nebraska has broad protections for employees who report unsafe working conditions.  A complaint about an unsafe working condition can be a report of a work injury in many circumstances. Employees reporting concerns over the design of technology may also have protections under federal law. The United States Senate has opened up an investigation of the 737 Max based on issues raised by a whistleblower. Complaints about machine design could be covered under the various whislteblower laws administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employees bring a claim under the act have an easier evidentiary standard to meet than in other forms of retaliation cases.

Employees injured on the job by defective machinery can also bring a negligence case against the manufacturer of the equipment. This so-called third party case could be worth substantially more than a workers compensation claim. But in a case involving modern software controlling old machinery, there could be a dispute over who was at fault. Producers of older technology may also be able to defend negligence claims based on a statute of repose defense which can limit claims for injuries that have yet to happen.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in employment law, Nebraska, third party, Whistleblower, Workers Compensation and tagged , .