Walk-In Freezer

Walk-in Freezer Injuries or Death

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Walk-in Freezer Injury Lawyers

Although walk-in freezer injury incidents are not exceedingly common, the dangers of entering a walk-in freezer are well-understood to the point that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends property owners make sure their freezers are equipped with a door latch used to open them from the inside of the freezer or a panic bar – important safety features to ensure an employee doesn’t get trapped inside.

But of course, accidents happen, and walk-in freezer injuries are not unheard of. In fact, there have been a few high-profile incidents of walk-in freezer-related deaths in the past few years that remind us that just because it’s not the most common workplace injury or type of wrongful death event, it’s not impossible for a worker to be injured if a property owner doesn’t guarantee certain precautions are in place.

The use of walk-in freezers can result in injuries such as: slips, trips, and falls; frostbite; nerve damage; amputation; and more. If you or a loved one has suffered a walk-in freezer injury on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call Phillips Law Group today to discuss your situation in a free, no-obligation consultation without delay.

Infamous Walk-In Freezer Injuries

In September 2017, 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in the walk-in freezer of the Crowne Plaza Chicago-O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, according to NPR. After attending a late-night party on the ninth floor of the hotel, she didn’t return home, and almost a day later, her body was found in a freezer in a commercial kitchen space of the building.

A hotel employee who walked into the freezer around 10:30 pm that night somehow didn’t see Jenkins inside, according to her mother’s attorneys in a later lawsuit, citing video footage. Sadly, her body wasn’t discovered until two hours later. In addition, hotel surveillance videos revealed that she was even seen by multiple staff members as she walked toward the freezer, but no one stopped her.

Jenkins’ cause of death was determined to be hypothermia. Ultimately, her family reached a settlement reportedly worth $6 million.

In another incident, Marvin Todd Keeling, 48, was found dead on June 26, 2018, inside a walk-in beer cooler behind a concession area at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Family members told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was installing his own beer tap invention in the cooler when he died.

According to a lawsuit, Keeling was finishing installing the invention when the cooler filled with carbon dioxide. A county medical examiner determined he died due to asphyxia from carbon dioxide exposure. An autopsy report said Keeling’s “fall/collapse was very rapid or that he was so disoriented that he was unable to form or act on logical thought processes.”

His widow’s lawyers alleged Keeling couldn’t get out of the cooler because of a “faulty door release mechanism that was improperly constructed, assembled, maintained and allowed to exist.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported his wife’s lawyers argued the defendants were aware of carbon dioxide leaks in the beer distribution system, including inside the cooler where Keeling died, but failed to install a carbon dioxide monitor, alarm system, or proper ventilation.

Potential Walk-In Freezer Death Injuries

Those are just two tragic incidents involving walk-in freezers that resulted in death. There are always risks of injuries when you enter a freezer, including:

  • Hypothermia
  • Injury due to breathing in carbon dioxide
  • Frostbite
  • Amputation (if frostbite is not treated swiftly)
  • Slips and falls
  • … and even the risk of electrocution if electrical cords associated with walk-in freezers are in bad condition or come in contact with water

If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence involving a walk-in freezer, please call our firm today to discuss your legal options.

Preventing Walk-In Freezer Injuries and Deaths

OSHA lists employer solutions for preventing walk-in freezer hazards on a Young Worker Safety in Restaurants section of its website, but the information is important for any employers and workers to know.

Although it also lists ways employees can protect themselves, importantly, the guide notes, “Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.”

Solutions for employers include following OSHA standards such as:

  • Providing a panic bar or other means of exit on the inside of freezers to prevent trapping employees inside
  • Providing “a means of egress for all walk-in storage areas (especially refrigerators or freezers)”
  • Identifying potential worksite hazards and providing and ensuring employee use of appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Keeping floors clean and dry
  • Following all child labor laws that do not permit workers under the age of 16 to perform freezer or meat cooler work

Having freezers equipped with safety latches or alarm systems is important, but there’s always a chance they could malfunction. Property owners should perform periodic safety inspections to make sure their freezers are up to code and safe, and staff and employers should routinely check freezers to make sure no one is stuck inside one and in danger of injury or death.

Types of Compensation

Walk-in freezer injury victims could be entitled to compensation for many things, including:

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • … and more

Call Phillips Law Group for Assistance

Although walk-in freezer injuries are not one of the more common injuries, even in workplaces that use them regularly, they do involve risk no matter what. If you or a loved one was injured in a walk-in freezer, please don’t hesitate to call Phillips Law Group for assistance.

Our team has the knowledge and resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident and to determine what legal steps you should take next. We can offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss what happened and to talk you through all of your options.

Please contact us today at 602-222-2222 to learn more!

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