Q: Have lifetime medical benefits award for head injury due to fall from chair at work. Can I bring claim vs. chair maker?
WC Case worker did not conduct an inspection of the chair or ask for manufacture records.
A: You possibly have a claim against the chair manufacturer. However, the chair may not have been defective. It may just have been worn out. In Virginia a personal injury claim has to be filed within two (2) years from the date of the accident or else it will be time-barred. It is very important to preserve the defective chair. If that was not done, then your case may be impossible. Also, a product liability case is very difficult. This means you may have to have a minimum of $100,000.00 in damages (medical bills and lost wages) in order to obtain a review by a product liability lawyer.
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Probably, depending on how long ago your injury happened.
An expert will probably be necessary to prove that the chair had a manufacturing defect, as opposed to being not properly repaired or maintained by your employer, who has immunity.
The comp carrier will have a lien for the benefits they have paid against the third party recovery.
A: You may, but you would need to access the chair so it could be inspected. As Mr. Lutkenhaus notes, product cases are difficult to prove. However, why not get a consult from a member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Assn--they give free consultations.
A: Assuming there was a defect to the chair that caused your fall and injury, the answer is yes. You are not prohibited from bringing a third party action against the manufacturer, distributor of the chair as long as the statute of limitations has not run. You cannot bring a direct action against your employer. The other most important piece of any product liability lawsuit is the defective product itself. It must be preserved in the same condition it was in at the time of your injury. Without that chair you would have difficulty proving that this chair (the one you were injured on) and all chairs of this particular model and design were defective. You will also need an expert who would opine that the chair was inherently defective in its making, design and was the cause of your injury. Furthermore, since you had a workers' compensation claim, the amount of the payments made to you for temporary total disability, lump sum payment and medical expenses in total would serve as a lien against any future recovery on product defect case that you may be contemplating.
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