Injuries at work happen. When they do, there are often a number of different parties that may be responsible. The Fourth District Court of Appeals explains the circumstances under which a third-party may be sued for a worksite accident in Vallejos v. Lan Cargo S.A.
Mr. Vallejos was injured in an accident while working as a forklift operator in a warehouse at Miami International Airport. Vallejos was employed at the time by Professional Aviation Management, a subcontractor that supplied personnel to general contractor Lan Cargo, S.A., which owns the warehouse. Infinity Cargo Services also supplied workers at the warehouse under a separate contract with Lan Cargo.
Pablo Robaina, an Infinity employee, asked Vallejos to move a small dumpster called a "hopper" and dump it in a larger dumpster. Vallejos did not usually perform this job and Robaina didn't have the necessary security clearance to go to the area where the larger dumpster was stored. "Robaina showed Vallejos how to dump the hopper using a makeshift rope that allowed the operator to dump the hopper from the cab of the forklift so that the operator did not have to exit the forklift," the Court explained. "The rope did not come attached to the hopper but was added later by employees at the warehouse."
While dumping the hopper, the rope was caught in one of the forklift's wheels and Vallejos was thrown from his seat. He'd had the rope wrapped around his hand and wound up injuring it so seriously that four fingers had to be amputated. Vallejos also suffered psychological injury as a result of the accident and was unable to return to work.