What is a Crush Injury?
If you or a friend lost a finger, hand or foot at work, chances you had a crush injury. Crush injuries may occur when a body part is caught in a machine or between two objects.
According to OSHA, crush injuries are defined as injuries resulting from a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of an object. This includes worker who get caught or crushed in operating equipment, between other mashing objects, between a moving and stationary object, or between two or more moving objects.
Accidents that result in crush injuries are often the result of lax safety standards. When employers comply with and enforce OSHA’s safety standards, accidents that involve crush injuries are far less likely to occur.
Crush injuries are extremely common in the dangerous world of construction. They are among the “fatal four” leading causes of construction worker deaths. The fatal four list includes falls, struck by objects, electrocutions and caught in or caught between accidents.
Crush injuries are also common in factories and anywhere heavy machinery is frequently utilized. Getting a hand or limb caught in a machine can result in the loss of the hand or limb, catastrophic injuries, and even death. Most crushing injuries lead to a difficult and long convalescence period and will require ongoing medical care.
Where & When They Occur
Crush injuries are most common on construction sites but can also occur in the trucking and manufacturing industries, or any occupation that involves using a forklift. Crush injuries are often the result of a “caught in or between” event, which would include any accident where the injury is the result of being caught or crushed between objects – as opposed to a “struck” event where the impact alone is responsible for the injury.
Examples of accidents that can result in crush injuries include:
- Being crushed between rolling, sliding or shifting objects such as a semi-truck and a dock wall
- A cave-in of a trench
- Getting pulled into machinery or equipment
- Getting stuck between a truck frame and a hydraulic bed that is lowering
- Getting pinned by a forklift or other heavy vehicle.
Statistics About Crush Injuries
As stated earlier, crush injuries are not only confined to construction sites. Any job that involves heavy machinery, large objects, unstable structures, faulty equipment, or forklifts can potentially result in crush injuries for workers.
A look at forklift accidents is instructive on how crush injuries occur. OSHA’s Office of Data Analysis (ODA) found that the largest cause of injuries and deaths involving forklifts was vehicle tipover. The second highest number of fatalities reported in the ODA study resulted from accidents where employees were crushed between a vehicle and a surface. These accidents were attributed to the following:
- The operator got off the vehicle while it was running (13 percent)
- A worker on a platform was crushed between the platform and an overhead surface (4 percent)
- An employee’s leg was caught when a vehicle sideswiped a metal surface (2 percent)
- An employee attempted to prevent a vehicle tipover by holding up the overhead guard (2 percent)
- An employee changed a tire and the vehicle fell from the jack (2 percent)
- An empty 55-gallon drum used to support the vehicle during maintenance collapsed (2 percent).
Injuries From Crush Accidents
When two large objects crush a human body, muscle damage happens instantaneously. Extreme pressure exerted on muscle cells cuts off blood flow and can result in muscle death. The severity of a crush injury will depend upon the force of the objects involved in the accident and the part of the body that was crushed. If the individual was stuck between two objects for an extended period of time, he or she may not survive the accident. If an extremity is involved in a crush accident, it can often result in amputation. Other injuries common to crush accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Head injuries
- Damaged muscles
- Damaged nerves
- Damaged skin tissue
- Severed limbs
- Broken bones
- Organ death
Why You Need Riddle & Brantley
Individuals that have suffered crush injuries may find themselves facing months or years of disability. Crush injuries can happen in an instant and leave the individual struggling to overcome not only the physical trauma of an accident but the fear of what tomorrow may bring. In addition, victims of crush injuries have a high chance of developing complications such as infections, blood clots, further amputations, and even heart problems.
We have represented several clients who have been injured and killed as a result of crush injuries. One client was killed when he was crushed by a tree that fell on him at a logging site in the mountains of North Carolina. We represented the family in trying to obtain the death benefits from Workers’ Compensation. We were able to get the family the total amount of the weekly death benefits paid out in one lump sum rather than in weekly installments over 400 weeks. This $159,000 settlement represented the total amount of the weekly benefits as well as a 10% penalty since safety violations resulted in the workers’ death.
Another client we represented lost several fingers on one hand and the other hand in its entirety when it was crushed and severed in a piece of logging equipment on his job site We were able to help him receive the medical treatment he needed as well as a settlement for $622,000 which included an annuity for his life care plan.
Please note that these results are intended to illustrate the type of matters handled by our firm, and not all the firm’s results are listed. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case. More information is available on our Case Results page.
Let a crush injury lawyer from Riddle & Brantley relieve your concerns about your workers’ compensation claim. When dealing with an injury that may require a lifetime of medical treatment, it is extremely important that your claim is handled with care and experience.
Riddle & Brantley’s Raleigh injury lawyers, Chris Brantley and Adam Smith, are board certified specialists in workers’ compensation and have obtained many favorable settlements for clients.
If you or a loved one has suffered a crush injury, do not hesitate to speak with our lawyers regarding your workplace injury and workers’ compensation claim.