A welder called Ignacio Llamas was recently awarded $8.4 million as compensation for a workplace injury when he suffered severe burning when a molten piece of metal broke loose and slid down his foot.
The metal burned through a protective Tyvek suit, slid down Llamas jeans into his rubber boot, and burned the top of his foot. Llamas was working in a confined space and it took some time to remove his boot and take the molten metal off his foot.
Llamas was not wearing leather boots, which are usually worn by welders. Welders’ trousers usually fit over the top part of the boots to prevent anything falling into them. Llamas was wearing rubber boots that fit over the jeans, leaving a gap for falling debris. This made his employers negligent.
The incident occurred in February 2007 in Freeport and the legal relationships were complicated by various subcontracting agreements. The jury assessed blame between different parties – the contractor Altair Strickland at 19 percent; Certified Safety Specialists at 50 percent; Llamas’ actual employer, Turnaround Welding Services at 30 percent; and finally Llamas at 1 percent,. The jury effectively found that Llamas was not culpable for his injury.
The employer Turnaround Welding was covered by a Worker’s Compensation program and Altair Strickland settled before trial for substantially less.
The injury was compounded when a Certified Safety Specialist employee instructed Llamas to attend a doctor who did not properly treat the wound after an emergency doctor said he suffered third-degree burns. The resulting infection compounded the injury.