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Workers' compensation: Arc flash burn victim sues Tesla

A 37-year-old trainee electrician in California has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the automaker Tesla. This claim arose from severe burn injuries the man suffered in an arc flash incident in June 2017. Although he was in the employ of a contractor on the Tesla site and eligible for workers' compensation benefits through his employer, he alleges egregious negligence by Tesla because the car manufacturer refused to cut the electricity to the equipment on which the man had to work. He asserts Tesla wanted to avoid slowing down the production by isolating power.

According to court documents, the plaintiff became engulfed in flames as the arc flash threw him between 15 and 20 feet across the floor. He says he remained in the hospital for two months, during which time, skin from is back and thighs were grafted onto his neck, chest and arms. He lost one finger, and he now lives with chronic pain and nerve pains akin to being poked by thousands of needles. He further claims he was unable to use his hands for the first six months after the accident, and holding a cup still requires both hands.

The plaintiff says he cannot lift his head to look up because the skin on his neck is rigid and cannot stretch, and he is unable to do basic tasks or enjoy life as he had prior to the accident. He suffers anxiety when he thinks of all the surgeries that still await him. Furthermore, he claims that he used to help his parents with tasks around the house; now, the roles are reversed, with them being his caretakers.

The California workers' compensation insurance program typically cover medical expenses and lost wages. When workers suffer permanent or temporary disability, additional benefits might be awarded. However, many of the damages that this worker suffered will not be covered by workers' compensation benefits. With the support and guidance of an experienced attorney, he may be successful in pursuing additional financial relief through the civil justice system.

Source: revealnews.org, "Severely injured worker sues Tesla: 'I'm not who I used to be'", Will Evans, May 21, 2018

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