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I have worked at a major theme park for (now) six seasons of operations. Until now, I have had an unblemished safety record (and because of my position, we are tested on record in various ways.) I'm a lifeguard.

Today however, I threw a soft-bodied water tube. This could easily be mistaken for the exact model. It is adult-sized. enter image description here

If the grapevine is correct, I have somehow broken another employee's wrist with this thing. (At least, it has certainly gone to workman's comp.) I am still in dismay that a normal person could have suffered such an injury from a short toss. However, two people say they saw me hit them with it. (To be honest, I had no idea I'd struck anyone at the time. I'm guessing I didn't actually look around the tube before I threw it to the ground and turned around to get another one.) I don't think they're lying, and neither am I.

I am in the wrong for allowing another employee to be struck regardless, however.

There are some caveats here:

  • The tubes are soft of body
  • We let literal children carry them up multiple stories of stairs all day, unsupervised
  • The tubes were not fully inflated at the time.
  • A supervisor watched me literally throw the two person version of these by the dozen at another employee. He high-fived me for saving a bunch of time.

I'm currently suspended, but I have 24 hours to submit a statement. What should I say? Should I bother? I've already written an apology letter intended for the injured party (I do feel bad), but not sent it.

Legal Environment: United States.

(I'm not in financial jeopardy because of my other jobs; I have three.)

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  • From the picture, does it mean 4 people (adults) can fit in 4 corners of this water tube ? Jun 25 at 22:43
  • You may also want to post this question to "Law - Stack Exchange" at : law.stackexchange.com It may get better answers there. I know it is an accident and you did not intentionally hurt anyone. Jun 25 at 22:54
  • @Job_September_2020 Yup, that is a four person tube. Jun 25 at 23:10
  • 6
    This sounds like a question for a lawyer who's familiar with the law in your state, not for random internet strangers. Jun 26 at 0:00
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    Your workplace is asking you for a statement of what happened, not an apology. If you get into a car accident with someone, you don't send an apology letter. That would be stupid. Has you workplace asked you to write an apology letter? If you do write an apology letter, you could cost your employer extra money. Be very careful with that. Jun 26 at 0:43
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A few thoughts

  • Your employer is almost certainly insured against this sort of thing. The insurer will want an account for the purposes of any claims or lawsuits (same as if you were in a car accident in a company vehicle)
  • Unless you were deliberately trying to injure your fellow employee, it's likely you were merely negligent at worst. It's also possible the other employee was not where they were supposed to be.
  • Your employer is generally responsible for your conduct in performing assigned tasks. If they had told you not to handle the inflatables this way that might be different, but it sounds like this is considered normal behavior.
  • Believe it or not, you can break your wrist fairly easily depending how the force was applied. I can easily see a heavy-gauge 4-person inflatable having enough force to break a bone if it hit just right.
  • While your personal liability is unclear here, it seems unlikely you will be sued personally. Your employer will be sued for any damages if it comes to that (you go where the money is). Consulting a lawyer can't hurt, but be prepared to pay for it since you have no claims for the lawyer to get money from.
  • It's possible that to limit liability they will terminate you. This becomes all but certain if there was a protocol you failed to follow.

What should you write? Describe the task you were performing in detail. Include any training you received in performing that task and any feedback indicating how well/poorly you were doing it. If you don't remember the incident itself, just be honest and say you were performing the task assigned and did not see the other employee, let alone knew you had injured them.

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You feel bad because you may have hurt someone. You will feel a lot worse if you get sent a hospital bill and are expected to pay for it.

I'd hop over to law.stackexchange.com and get opinions there. The most likely best approach is to find yourself a lawyer, and don't say a word, without the advise of that lawyer. If a lawyer costs $500 an hour and fixing a broken wrist costs $10,000 I'd know what I'd rather pay.

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    Law doesn't give legal advice. The only response you will get will be to consult a lawyer.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jun 26 at 9:17

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