On February 10th, an East Baton Rouge Parish man filed a lawsuit against several of his previous employers in the 23rd Judicial District Court claiming that he was exposed to unreasonable noise levels at work. Robert T. Firmin sued Exxon Mobil, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, BASF Corporation, Honeywell International, Star Enterprise, PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Marathon Petroleum Company, and each former employer's insurance company over his alleged permanent hearing loss.
According to the lawsuit, Firmin claims he suffers from high-range hearing loss after being exposed to repeated and prolonged occupational noise for years. Firmin accused his former employers of battery for failing to notify him of the dangers associated with the noise. He also accused the defendants of negligence for exposing him to unreasonable levels of noise, failing to provide him with proper safety protections and training, failing to provide medical monitoring, failing to keep the noise at a safe level, and failing to alert him to the risks associated with prolonged exposure to loud occupational noises. Firmin asked the court to award him up to $75,000 in damages for disability, medical expenses, suffering, pain, and loss of enjoyment of life.
These days, injuries sustained while at work are all too common. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to navigate the laws put into place to protect workers in Louisiana. Whether an injury takes place on land, at sea, or adjacent to navigable waters will have an effect on which law applies to an employee injury. For most workers who are hurt while working on land in Louisiana, the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act will generally provide the only avenue for recovery. Workers' compensation benefits are paid to an employee hurt while at work regardless of who caused the injury.
There are exceptions to Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act remedies, however. An employee hurt at work may sue an at-fault third-party for damages beyond those available under traditional workers' compensation laws. Also, the intentional act exception to Louisiana's workers' compensation laws allows an employee to sue an employer for negligence if the worker can demonstrate the employer either consciously desired the physical result or knew it was reasonably certain to occur as a direct result of the employer's conduct. If you were hurt on the job, it is a good idea to contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney to assist you in determining your rights.