When Sarah C.’s mother lost her leg after a forklift accident at her place of work, the employer tried to use an arbitration agreement to settle the case for a maximum of $400k.  Sarah didn’t think that sounded fair, so she contacted Grossman Law Offices. Working together, we were able to secure a $2.1 million settlement, more than 5 times the original offer.

Facts of the Case

Location

The incident took place at our client's place of work—a warehouse in Texas.

What happened

The forklift our client operated as a part of her job flipped when it hit a patch of oil and water that had been allowed to accumulate on the warehouse floor.

Injuries

Our client was thrown from the forklift, which subsequently ran over her left leg, resulting in an amputation.

Resolution

$2,100,000 settlement – over 5 times larger than the maximum compensation allowed under the company's arbitration agreement.

Our Client's Story

When our client—a hard-working, Eastern European immigrant—went to her job as a forklift operator at a warehouse in Texas, she had no inclination of the nightmare she was about to endure.

Soon, she would suffer the devastating consequences of bad decision making by her employer. The issue unfolded as poor drainage caused a puddle to form on the warehouse floor. Oil from a nearby machine mixed with the water, and the result was an extremely slippery patch of liquid. When our client's forklift came into contact with the water/oil mix, the forklift spun like a top. Our client was thrown from the forklift, which then ran over her leg, completely crushing it.

She ended up having to amputate her left leg...

She had a work injury. She ended up having to amputate her left leg due to a forklift injury. She was trying to be positive about it, but she was just obviously emotional. She was just sad and frustrated that she couldn't really do anything about it. It was a life changing event, so she was just really emotional about it.

Sarah C., daughter of our client

Our client's employer made her a settlement offer of $400k. Or, more precisely, they told her that the maximum amount that she would receive is $400k, including the medical costs they had paid so far.

Further, when she began working for the company, the employer had her sign an arbitration agreement. This meant that she couldn't sue in regular state district court, but would instead have to litigate any dispute with the employer in a privatized, quasi-court. When her accident happened, the employer tried to convince her to exercise a "voluntary benefits" provision under the arbitration agreement that would allegedly pay her a settlement without the need for a legal battle.

The employer's position was basically this: You can't sue us, all you can do is arbitrate, and you won't get much from that. So, we'll offer you $400k, without the need to fight.

Because of the traumatic, life-altering injury she suffered, exacerbated by the fact that she did not speak English fluently, our client was in no position to advocate for herself. And so her daughter, Sarah, stepped in—and stepped up—to help her mother.

To Sarah, the idea of voluntary compensation sounded like a gesture of good will, but the amount offered certainly didn't sound fair. Thus, she set out to find a personal injury attorney who would provide counsel and help her mother find the best path forward.

After conducting research, Sarah spoke with several law firms in the Dallas area, ultimately choosing Grossman Law Offices.

I took it upon myself to look for lawyers...

It kind of all fell on me. My mom's foreign, so her English is not the best. So I just took it upon myself to look for lawyers. I did a lot of research, Googled, met with a few, but it was just, it wasn't it. And then when I came across Grossman, I submitted a form online, just letting them know about the case, just very general. And it was funny because I was driving and I would see their billboards and I was just like, maybe it's a sign. Then I heard from back from them maybe like a few days right after. So they were really quick about that.

Sarah C., daughter of our client

Our first order of business was to review the arbitration settlement agreement that the client's employer wanted her to sign. What we uncovered is that, while the company was seemingly offering a $400k settlement, what the agreement actually said was that total benefits to the injured worker couldn't exceed $400K.

However, the company had already paid nearly $300K in medical expenses. So, in actuality, the majority of what they were supposedly offering her had already been spent. Had our client fallen for this attempt, she would have signed away her rights and then would've received a check for $100k or less.

They were on top of everything...

They were very reliable, like communication with them was like key. They were like on top of everything, I didn't even have to like ask sometimes they would just tell me everything, which is great. Like, I mean, within a lawyer, like that was just the main thing that I was like, I would want my mom to have.

Sarah C., daughter of our client

Together with our client and her daughter, we formed a consensus that it was worth the risk to forego the "voluntary benefits" provision of the arbitration agreement and sue the company for damages instead. That decision was based on our assessment that the company's negligence was directly responsible for the incident that led to the amputation of our client's leg, and our belief that we could win in arbitration.

What some people may not realize is that arbitration exists to benefit the employer. The whole reason companies ask their workers to sign arbitration agreements is to keep cases out of courtrooms, where a jury may make the employer pay.

Arbitration is distinct from a conventional trial in several ways, but the main difference is that there is no jury. Instead, the matter is tried before an arbitrator, which is a type of quasi-judge whom the employer pays to hear the matter.

Most attorneys prefer to avoid arbitration. As such, employers often have workers sign arbitration agreements, which they hope will scare away most firms who aren't comfortable trying a case in arbitration.

But they miscalculated, and their employee chose our firm, a firm that has recovered many millions of dollars for our clients in arbitration cases.

They just treated her like kind of like family...

They definitely referred us to a lot of doctors, which was very helpful. They knew what they were doing. And they overall, they just treated her like kind of like family in a way. Like she doesn't speak the best English. So they worked with her, you know, got her translators, did all that. So that was, that was really, really great.

Sarah C., daughter of our client

During our investigation, we found that the company was aware of the condition – the condensation build-up – that caused the forklift to spin out of control, but that they did nothing to remedy the issue. That negligence costed our client her left leg.

Ultimately, we were able to gather enough evidence to convince the employer that it was in their best interest to settle the case pre-trial. Together with the client, we ultimately agreed on a $2.1 million settlement.

GET HELP NOW

Serious workplace injury? Call Grossman Law 24/7 for a free consultation. We are here to help you recover.

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