Workers in Pennsylvania are likely aware of the potential dangers they face on a daily basis. They would naturally expect their employers to ensure safe surroundings and assess the work site for potential hazards that could cause personal injury. When a work injury occurs, a worker may be eligible to claim benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance fund to cover medical expenses. However, if the injury is the result of negligence by a third-party, the injured worker may pursue a personal injury claim in a civil court.
Such a claim was brought to a Pennsylvania court by a plumber who allegedly suffered life-changing personal injury while working as a contractor on the premises of Pilot Flying J in New Milford. The lawsuit states that the plumber was called in to repair a burst water pipe. The worker apparently found a thick, dark substance seeping into the hole he excavated in order to repair the pipe. He claims to have been submerged up to his midsection in what was later found to be leaking diesel fuel.
The plumber alleges that the defendants, Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, and Sovereign Consulting, were aware of the fuel leak but failed to warn him about the danger and the need for protective clothing. The plaintiff claims to have spent five consecutive days working in the dangerous conditions and subsequently learned that the skin can absorb diesel fuel if exposure is prolonged. It can be absorbed into the bloodstream and result in renal failure.
The plumber claims to have developed dizziness, nausea and fatigue within a month after completing the job. He reportedly consulted with doctors at the hospital and was diagnosed with severe glomerulosclerosis, which is apparently a non-reversible condition requiring a kidney transplant. The plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $150,000 from the defendants for negligence. In addition, he accuses them of violating the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act.
Workers in Pennsylvania who are covered by workers’ compensation and have suffered a work injury may claim benefits from the fund. In cases where a third-party’s negligence is evident, the worker retains the right also to file a personal injury claim in a civil court. While workers’ compensation usually covers only medical expenses and lost wages, the civil court claim may bring about a monetary judgment to cover additional damages as allowed by state laws.
Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Plumber blames diesel fuel tank leak for kidney failure", Jim Boyle, Aug. 11, 2014