A union electrician sustained bodily injuries while he was in the process of removing telephone poles, with his apprentice, by the side of the Belt Parkway. His apprentice was operating a boom lift truck for the first time on the day of the accident, although he had worked with similar trucks previously. The apprentice drove this vehicle to the site, set the brake and the "power take off", which transferred power from the operation of the truck to the boom apparatus. Then he and the electrician positioned the outriggers and downriggers. The workers determined that the vehicle was level, and then entered the basket lift. They were both in the basket lift approximately 50 feet in the air for about two minutes when the truck tipped over, causing them to fall approximately 50 feet to the ground. Both workers were wearing their harnesses and were tied off to the basket lift at the time of the accident.
Because of the accident, the electrician injured his lower back, which required extended treatment, including injections and surgery. He was unable to return to work and filed a Workers’ Compensation claim with his employer’s insurance. Workers' compensation is an insurance that provides cash benefits and/or medical care for workers who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their job. Immigration status does not preclude anyone from obtaining benefits related to this insurance. Even a person who is an illegal worker in the United States, but sustains injuries as a result of an accident at a construction site, is entitled to medical and lost wages benefits from workers’ compensation insurance. Employers pay for this insurance and cannot require the employee to contribute to the cost of compensation. Weekly cash benefits and medical care are paid by the employer's insurance carrier, as directed by the Workers' Compensation Board, the state agency that processes the claims. In a workers' compensation case, no party is determined to be at fault. Worker's carelessness does not decrease the amount that he or she receives, nor is it increased by an employer's fault. However, a worker loses his/her right to workers' compensation if the injury results solely from intoxication from drugs or alcohol, or from the intent to injure themselves or someone else.
This injured worker also filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, asserting violations of Labor Law § 240(1). Generally, Labor Law § 240(1) protects construction workers from gravity-related risks such as falling from a height or being struck by a falling object. Liability under this section is nondelegable, and construction site owners and general contractors can be held strictly liable for violations of Labor Law § 240(1). The plaintiff's (injured worker's) potential fault is immaterial in these types of accidents and won't be considered by the court, which makes this statute very plaintiff-friendly.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendants allowed him to work in an unsecured area and failed to provide him with safety nets, safety lines, and spotters.
The defendants denied liability and argued that they provided plaintiff with proper equipment, which did not fail, but tipped over because it had been improperly set up and operated by the plaintiff.
In response, the court granted the plaintiff's request to assess automatic legal responsibility for this accident on the defendants and granted Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on his Labor Law § 240(1) claim. The judge found the defendants liable for the plaintiff’s accident and injuries.
The monetary damages still had to be established. The plaintiff claimed that because of the injuries he sustained in the accident, he had been made permanently unemployable. He complained that everyday activities with his family are painful and difficult. He also testified that he has problems with sitting and walking for extended periods of time. He stated that, even though the surgery improved the condition of his lumbar spine, he still suffers from pain and has residual limitations. He also rejected the low settlement offers extended by the defendant at a pre-trial mediation, which meant that the case had to go to trial. It was worth the risk. After lengthy deliberations, the jury awarded the plaintiff almost $4,000,000.00 in damages.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact The Platta Law Firm for a free legal consultation by calling 212–514–5100 (24/7), emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting our law firm in Financial District of Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions using the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.