Mill workers settle lawsuits after chemical explosion

If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, then you have the right to appropriate medical treatment that should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. However, you could be entitled to additional compensation if the accident was caused by a third party’s negligence, such as with a dangerous or defective product.

With that in mind, readers in Spartanburg may recall a tragic work accident that occurred in 2012 at a York County paper mill. Three workers suffered burn injuries at the Resolute Forest Products facility when a valve failed and sprayed the men with sodium sulfide and sodium hydroxide — a solution otherwise known as “white liquor.”

The men sued the Finland-based valve manufacturer and the Spartanburg-based distributor. The employer was not named as a defendant.

The accident has led to multiple surgeries for two of the workers. One of the men is now blind and will undergo a cornea replacement operation this summer. He said he hopes to one day see his family again.

A judge was set to hear the case, but the parties recently settled out of court. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, though it was reported that an attorney proposed a $4 million settlement for one of the victims. As is often the case in settled lawsuits, the companies the men sued have denied any wrongdoing.

Workers’ compensation is available to cover the costs of an on-the-job injury. However, if a work injury is due to the negligence of a third party such as a manufacturer, then the injured worker’s best course of action may be a product liability lawsuit. An attorney with experience in workers’ comp and personal injury claims can help assess the full cost of your injury and explain your available options.

Source: The State, “Exclusive: Workers burned in 2012 York County paper mill explosion settle lawsuits,” Andrew Dys, April 23, 2014

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