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Midland man awarded $6M after losing arm on the job

In 2008, a Midland, Texas, man who had been diagnosed with mild mental retardation lost his arm while working with a paper baler. Following the catastrophic workplace accident, the man brought a personal injury lawsuit against his employer and the company that owned the paper baler.

Late last month, a Midland jury awarded the man more than $6 million for the damages he suffered as a result of the accident. In a press release, the two attorneys representing the Midland man said he was working at an occupational program through Permian Basin Mental Health, Mental Retardation (MHMR) when the accident occurred on Nov. 22, 2008.

The man is said to have been loading scrap paper into the baler, owned by Butts Recycling, when the machine activated and severed his left arm. The man, who is 50-years-old, sued both MHMR and Butts Recycling in a personal injury lawsuit. According to the press release, a jury decided that both defendants shared liability for the accident.

The jury awarded the man $6,129,083.19 for his injuries, and held MHMR 50 percent liable and Butts Recycling 50 percent liable. Unfortunately, the press release also indicated that the man will actually only receive half of the damage award because MHMR has workers' compensation insurance.

Under state law in Texas, if an employer is a subscriber to workers' compensation insurance, it is unlikely that the employer can be sued for damages even if the employer negligently caused a workplace accident. On the other hand, third parties who are liable for workplace accidents can be sued for damages in personal injury lawsuits.

Source: mywesttexas.com, "Jury awards $6M to man whose arm was severed in workplace accident," July 27, 2012

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