Industrial factories increasingly use robots to assist with labor. These machines are typically placed in higher risk areas, and are meant to aid employees. However, they may sometimes be the cause of an accident, as was recently the case in Michigan.
A Grand Rapids man recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit after his wife was killed in an accident at an auto-parts factory two years ago. He feels his wife’s death should have been preventable and would like to keep other families from being in a similar situation. In an interesting twist, the auto-parts factory is not being sued. Instead, five robotics companies are being held liable for this woman’s death.
The deceased woman serviced robot technicians on a regular basis and had been an employee at the factory for 12 years. She was working in a welding area when a robot entered. A malfunction caused a robotic arm to hit the woman’s head, pushing her against a fixture. The robot was not intended to enter the woman’s work area. Other factory employees found her unresponsive after the accident occurred. It is still not determined what caused the malfunction, and lawyers have not been allowed on the premises to examine the accident scene. According to the lawsuit, the robotics companies were negligent in testing the robots for accuracy.
After unexpected accidents, it can be difficult for families to move forward knowing that their loved one’s death might have been prevented. In these circumstances, it can be helpful to speak to an attorney so families understand the options open to them.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “Lawsuit: Defective robot killed factory worker; human error to blame,” Tresa Baldas, March 14, 2017