Has your employer ever given you orders that put you in a dangerous position? Has the company you work for ever asked you to knock on the door of a debtor and attempt to collect thousands of dollars all by yourself? Have you ever been asked to make electrical repairs in your office even though you’ve never been trained to do so? Have you ever been asked to clean up near a tiger’s cage with only a rake to protect you? Stranger things have happened.
Fortunately, most employers understand that it’s unwise (and potentially costly) to expect employees to do dangerous duty unless they have had special training. However, it does occasionally happen that warnings and cautionary advice fail to be communicated completely.
A Grounds-keeping Job at a Zoo
When a man is hired to perform general maintenance and grounds keeping tasks at a zoo does he automatically assume the risks associated with dealing with wild, dangerous animals? Not according to the Georgia Court of Appeals in the case of Shepard v. Streetman, 198 Ga. App. 474 (1991).
A Tiger Injury on the Job
Among this employee’s tasks was to rake up debris in an area near a tiger’s cage. When the tiger reached out from between the cage bars and mauls the maintenance man, he was seriously injured. The zoo owner says that the maintenance man had voluntarily assumed the risk.
The injured man sued the zoo owner for negligence.
Our plaintiff did not accept a job that required him to go into the cage of a tiger. He agreed to do a job involving a rake which is not ordinarily known to cause mauling by tigers. He also had the right to believe that his employer – who presumably knew all the risks associated with the job – would not assign him a job that could not be done safely.
The zookeeper argued that when an individual accepts a job in a zoo, he or she accepts that there is the possibility of danger which absolves the employer of responsibility for injury.
The trial court refused to grant a ‘directed verdict’ in which a final decision is made by the judge without the jury. The jury found for the plaintiff in its decision, and the defendant zookeeper appealed.
The Employers Responsibility – Regardless of the Dangers Associated With the Job
The point of this story is simple enough. As an employer, you have responsibilities to your employees. One of those duties is to accept responsibility for injuries that result from doing what you’ve told them to do in the way you’ve told them to do it. As much as the defense lawyers in this case wanted to evade that duty, the law barred them from doing so.
In our state, the laws are written and applied in fair and straightforward ways. No amount of spinning the facts, or shading of the truth can allow employers to escape the sometimes painful cost of their negligence.
If the dangers in your own workplace have caused you to be injured, you may have a case. It’s possible the facts in your story could entitle you to recover damages. Don’t assume that your injuries are beyond hope. Call the personal injury specialists at The Millar Law Firm. They will do a free review of your case and help you to know if you should take the matter to court.
*Legal Disclaimer About this Article
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above article is a factually-accurate case history of an actual previously litigated or settled Georgia case. The case was reported on in local media and/or legal reporting services and it was not handled by The Millar Law Firm. However, we think our current and prospective clients may find this information interesting and informative as the case is factually similar to cases our office routinely handles. Please be advised that The Millar Law Firm makes no guarantees your case will have a similar outcome, as past results and results of our firm or of other lawyers and law firms are not indicative of future performance.