16-year-old worker scores double comp for employer's violation
Case name: Denmark v. Industrial Manufacturing Specialists, Inc., No. 2101113 (Ala. Civ. App. 05/04/12).
Ruling: The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that a worker was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits and double compensation for his employer's violation of child labor laws.
What it means: In Alabama, a worker who is a minor can receive double compensation for his injury if he is employed in a position that is prohibited under the law even if he is not performing the illegal task at the time he is injured.
Summary: A 16-year-old part-time worker for a manufacturer was required to use a band saw to cut metal bar stock into smaller segments. He and a coworker were loading a 1,300-pound metal bar stock onto a table so that it could be cut by the band saw when one end of the bar stock fell onto the worker. He was crushed and suffered internal injuries to his abdomen and intestines and a fractured ankle. He had surgeries and two screws were inserted into his ankle. The worker continued to have intermittent pain that traveled toward his foot and up his leg. However, the pain did not affect his daily activities, and he did not take medication. He experienced pain and swelling in his ankle from standing for an hour and stiffness from squatting. He sought benefits. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits for the permanent partial loss of use to his foot and double compensation for the manufacturer's violation of child labor laws.
The court rejected the worker's argument that he was entitled to compensation based on the loss of use of his leg, not just his foot. He had two screws in his ankle, and he experienced pain, swelling, and stiffness. However, no evidence suggested that his pain extended to his knee or higher up his leg. Also, his pain did not affect his usual activities.
The court pointed out that state law prohibits minors from being employed to operate band saws. As part of his job operating the band saw, he had to position the bar stock so it could be fed through the band saw. The court found a nexus between the task the worker was performing at the time of the accident and the manufacturer's violation of the child labor laws. Therefore, the worker was entitled to double compensation for his injury.
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June 28, 2012
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