Is robotics increasing the number of work injury lawsuits?

Technology sometimes results in increased automated processes in warehouses and factories. Yet is a robotic coworker as safe as its human counterpart? A recent article explores the potential impact to workers’ compensation policies and safety issues posed by large robotic machinery in close proximity to human workers.

The article suggests that interaction between humans and robots, sometimes referred to as collaborative robotics, is the wave of the future for assembly lines, construction sites, healthcare, and even domestic work. Yet that time has not yet arrived, as over 20 fatalities have been attributed to industrial robots in the United States. 

Industrial robots of the future may be better equipped to detect humans in their proximity, thanks to more advanced sensors. However, if that robotic equipment were to cause injury to another worker, more than just workers’ compensation benefits might be triggered. 

Specifically, a third-party action against the manufacturer might allow an injured worker to obtain full compensation for his or her injuries. Such a claim can factor in a financial recovery for pain and suffering, whereas workers’ compensation benefits typically provide only for lost wages and medical expenses. 

If you have been injured in a construction accident or other type of workplace accident, make sure you consult with a workers’ compensation and work injury lawyer. A lawyer can serve as a buffer between the employer’s insurance representative and the employee. In addition, a lawyer can ensure that there is consistency in any responses provided on the employee’s behalf. That could be important in the event the worker chooses to file a third-party lawsuit down the road. 

Source: Insurance Journal, “Cobots: Making It Safe for Humans, Robots to Work Side-by-Side,” Olivia Solon, Aug. 25, 2015

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