Chicago Forklift Operator Fails to Meet OSHA Standards – Truck Driver Receives $3.6 Million Settlement in McDonald v. Imperial Zinc Corp.

Under Illinois workers’ compensation laws, an employee cannot file a civil lawsuit against his or her employer for an injury that occurs within one’s work duties. However, workers’ compensation laws do not protect other entities from liability for injuries that occur in the workplace.

In Timothy McDonald and Judith McDonald v. Imperial Zinc Corp., et al., No. 09 L 1581, the plaintiff truck driver sued a manufacturing company after one of its employee’s negligence caused plaintiff’s work place injury. At the time of the personal injury, Timothy McDonald was loading his truck with goods from Imperial Zinc Corporation.

McDonald was standing on the loading dock when a forklift operator employed by Imperial Zinc Corp. backed over McDonald’s right foot. As a result of the work place injury, McDonald sustained a fractured foot, skin was torn off of his right foot, and a tendon in his left knee was ruptured. Despite extensive medical treatment, McDonald was unable to return to his prior job as a truck driver after this work place injury.

Because the forklift operator was an employee of Imperial Zinc, the plaintiff filed his personal injury claim against the manufacturing company. In his complaint, McDonald alleged that Imperial Zinc did not properly train its forklift operator, nor did it supervise him as he operated the forklift while loading McDonald’s truck.

In addition, the Illinois personal injury complaint alleged that Imperial Zinc and its forklift operator broke several of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) basic safety rules. OSHA is a federal agency that sets out basic safety and health standards for the workplace. Because the standards are federally mandated, every workplace should follow them, regardless of locality.

One of the aces up the plaintiff’s sleeve in proving the defense’s negligence was a videotape of the incident that was captured by a surveillance camera. While it is sometimes difficult to prove that an employee or a company failed to follow proper safety procedures on one specific occasion, it is hard to argue with video.

The defense presumably recognized this fact and therefore opted to settle the personal injury lawsuit at mediation rather than risk going to trial. McDonald’s lawsuit settled for $3.6 million, which will go towards paying his past and future medical bills, his lost wages following the work injury, and towards a loss of consortium claim filed by his wife.

Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois work place accidents for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Itasca, Palos Hills, Schaumburg, Lombard, Elk Grove Village, and Bartlett.

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