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Record Verdict Awarded to Families of Grain Bin Accident Victims

Our readers may typically think of worksite accidents as happening on construction sites where employees are building and operating machinery. However, keep in mind that worksite accidents can happen anywhere, especially where employees must operate machinery and safety precautions have not been put in place.

According to recent news by WHBF-TV, a Carroll County, Illinois jury awarded a verdict of $16 million to the families of two teens who were killed in a fatal grain bin accident. The accident occurred in July 2010 in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Two teen boys had been working inside the grain bin when it collapsed and trapped them and an attempted rescuer inside. Both of the teen boys suffocated from being trapped.

The trial lasted approximately two and a half weeks and each of the victims’ families were awarded $8 million. The attempted rescuer, who suffered injuries from the accident, was awarded $875,000. The defendant grain bin company was fined over $2 million for this incident and went out of business in 2011.

After this fatal accident, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) began grain safety programs in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. According to the Department of Labor’s grain handling webpage, OSHA has developed programs to provide workers and employers with information regarding safety and health regulations in grain handling facilities. Furthermore, OSHA addresses that suffocation is a serious concern in grain handling facilities, and is actually the leading cause of death in grain storage bins. Grains can act almost like quicksand and can bury a worker in a matter of seconds. In fact, it takes only 2 – 3 seconds for a worker to become helpless and trapped in flowing grain. The weight of the grain makes it difficult and near impossible for a victim to escape without help. For these reasons, OSHA sent notification letters to 13,000 grain elevator operators to not allow workers to enter the storage facilities without proper equipment, safety precautions, and training.

Following this specific accident, OSHA issued warning letters to the grain industry, on August 4, 2010. Because so many workers have become trapped and killed in grain bins, OSHA issued a new fact sheet to address and emphasize the dangers of entering the storage bins and safety procedures that must be in place. If workers must enter the storage bins, employers must turn off and block all equipment that poses a danger, especially the grain-moving equipment. Grain must never be emptied or moved into the bin while a worker is inside because this can create suction and pull and trap the worker in the grain within seconds. Employers should prohibit entry onto bridging conditions where grain has built up onto the sides, and should prohibit walking on grain, which could cause it to flow. Employers should also provide workers who enter the bin with a type of lifeline to prevent them from sinking into bins.

Similarly to the attorneys (not affiliated with our firm) who successfully obtained a verdict in this lawsuit, our attorneys have also achieved record verdicts and settlements for clients. We have helped injured victims in worksite accidents, premises liability cases, and personal injury lawsuits obtain fair and just compensation for their pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and financial hardships. For instance, in D.B. v. J.L. Adler Roofing Inc. et al., our attorneys successfully obtain a $5.7 million settlement for a young roofer who was paralyzed when he fell from a roof as a result of the contractor’s failure to provide safety devices. Through our work obtaining fair verdicts and settlements, we hope not only to compensate innocent victims and their families for their hardships, but to set a legal example to prevent future accidents from occurring. If you or someone in your family has been injured on another’s property, we may be able to help you obtain the justice you deserve too. Call our firm today for a free consultation, and our attorneys would be happy to discuss your rights and potential cause of action with you.