Published on:

Devastating Grain Bin Accident Puts Illinois Company out of Business

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys were saddened to hear of the deaths of two teenagers who were killed while working in a grain bin in Mount Carroll, Illinois.

The two teenage boys – along with another worker who was injured – were working in the grain bin at the northwestern Illinois company, helping the corn flow, while the machinery was running; devastatingly the three workers were trapped in corn that was more than 30 feet deep.

A grain bin is an agricultural structure used in farming to store bulk materials, such as grain, corn, coal, or sawdust. Grain bins are generally shorter in stature than silos, but serve the same purpose. Grain bins, if improperly equipped with safety devices, have the potential to be extremely dangerous; in fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports 16 fatalities in grain bin accidents in Illinois from 1998 to 2008.

According to the follow-up report prepared by OSHA rescue workers tried to free the workers by cutting holes in the sides of the bin to drain the corn. Unfortunately it was too late for the two teenage boys. OSHA investigators have since ruled that the accident could have prevented, and that none of the three workers were wearing safety harnesses or had lifelines.

Because working in a grain bin caries significant risk, there are a number of required precautions that must be taken to ensure worker safety – including making safety harnesses and lifelines available to grain-bin employees. These special laws are in place to protect the health and safety of workers. When a company doesn’t follow required procedures and a worker is injured or killed, that company may be held legally responsible for the damages that arise as a result of those injuries
These types of cases may give rise to an Illinois workplace injury lawsuit, where corporations are held liable for their negligent or intentional bad acts. In those instances, the companies may be required to pay either compensatory damages – which attempt to put the injured persons back in the positions they were in before being injured – or punitive damages – which are intended to punish the company and prevent them from harming others. In this particular case, compensatory damages may be awarded to the families of the teenage boys to compensate their loved ones for the loss of their respective companionship.

Following this tragedy, the company has gone out of business because it was required to pay almost $270,000 in federal fines because of the corporation’s negligence, including violations of child labor laws.

Any Chicago personal injury attorney knows that workplace injuries can be severe and life altering. Our attorneys have handled a number of these types of cases, including winning a $5.7 million settlement for a 27-year-old roofer in a workplace injury case who was paralyzed when he fell from a roof as a result of the general contractor’s failure to provide appropriate safety devices.

If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of an injury that occurred at work, an attorney may be able to apprise you of your rights under the law. Because laws are in place to protect workers, you may be entitled to compensation under the law for your injuries.