Two recent civil cases involving injured workers in Ohio highlight the burden of proof being placed on hurt workers. The two plaintiffs filed separate cases in Ohio courts and won civil awards which were both subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court. The Judges presiding over the cases both felt the workers did not provide enough evidence there was intent to cause injury on the part of the employers.


One of the attorney’s representing a plaintiff suggested injured workers are under attack by companies. The attorney stated that judges added language to the statutes that is not required. Specifically in this case, the Ohio Supreme Court decided in a 6-1 opinion that under the laws safeguards used to protect workers must be part of the machine.


In one claim, the plaintiff was electrocuted and was found to be wearing the wrong type of gloves for the job he was performing. Since the Supreme Court’s decision about safeguards being attached to the machine, the plaintiff was not awarded damages because his work gloves were obviously not a part of the machine. Several plaintiff attorneys feel that injured workers were not being treated fairly when the injuries were no fault of their own.


While the court does ensure injured workers do receive workers compensation benefits, the inability to receive additional damages for injuries that were not their fault. Only one judge was said to have sided with the injured workers. Justice Pfeifer made a written statement in one of the cases. His statement said he wished a company would ‘surprise me and act honorably and with compassion’. He stated his wish for employers to ‘acknowledge their complicity in the grievous injuries’ employee incur without hiring an attorney to remove themselves from responsibility.


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