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Fall From a Ladder at Work – What Are My Legal Rights?
Posted in Worksite Injury on July 7, 2021
Every year, falls lead to thousands of serious injuries and fatalities across the United States. Fall accidents often lead to physical, financial, and emotional hardships for the victims, and can occur at home, at work, or on another person’s property. Many of these accidents involve falls from ladders, which can increase the risk of very severe injuries like broken bones, spinal cord damage, and brain trauma. If you fall off a ladder and sustain serious injuries, you may have grounds for legal action.
Defective Ladder Injury Claims
Some ladder accidents occur due to a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect found in the ladder itself. If a ladder contains a defect that makes it unsafe to use and you sustain an injury as a result, you could file a product liability claim against the product’s manufacturer, distributor, or retailer.
For example, say that a ladder’s label falsely claims that it can support up to a certain weight that is 200 pounds higher than your current weight. However, the ladder buckles and breaks while you are using it. In this situation, the ladder’s instructions did not list the correct weight, leading to your injury. If other ladders sold by the company can support the correct weight, the ladder that you used likely sustained a defect during the manufacturing process. In either of these situations, the product’s manufacturer would be liable for any injuries you sustained.
Comparative Negligence and Ladder Injury Claims
If your actions caused you to fall from a ladder, you are likely ineligible for financial compensation. For example, if you set up the ladder incorrectly and it buckled underneath you, you likely do not have grounds to file a claim against another person. In these situations, it is important to speak to a lawyer to determine whether you were truly at fault for the accident, or if another factor was involved that you did not know about.
If you do attempt to file a claim, Washington’s comparative negligence rules will apply. Under these rules, the court will reduce your award by the amount of fault you share. If you are found to be 80 percent liable for the accident and ask for $100,000, you will only recover $20,000. If you are 100 percent responsible, you will receive $0.
Work-Related Ladder Falls
If you fell from a ladder while performing your work duties, you can file a workers’ compensation insurance claim to recover benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability. You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim regardless of negligence or whether you were at fault for the accident. To secure these benefits, however, you will need to prove that the fall occurred while you were working.
Negligence and Ladder Accidents
If someone else’s actions caused you to fall from the ladder, you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. For example, if you are climbing a ladder and someone accidentally bumps into it, he or she would be liable for any injuries you sustain due to the fall. If a property owner knew that the ladder was unsafe and asked you to climb up it anyway, he or she would be accountable for your injuries as well.
Proving negligence in a ladder accident case can be complex, so it is important to discuss your case with a Washington personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can evaluate your case and determine if you have grounds for a claim. Contact a Seattle personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.