A construction worker was injured when he fell and was impaled by an uncapped piece of a vertical rebar, while working on the construction of an electrical building owned by the City of New York. The rebar caused extensive injuries, which necessitated multiple hospitalizations and several surgical procedures. He also sustained a herniated disc and underwent spinal fusion surgery, physical therapy, and injections to alleviate pain.
Trial experts opined that as a result of the accident, the man's physical condition would continue to deteriorate. They also testified that he was expected to need additional surgery and would require ongoing treatment for the rest of his life.
Injured worker sued the City to recover damages for personal injuries, alleging violations of Labor Law § 200 and § 241 (6).
Generally, a violation of Labor Law § 200 can be proven in two ways. If the injured worker claims that a defect in the premises caused his accident, then he must show that an owner created the condition or actually knew, or should have known, about the defect, and the owner must have had a reasonable amount of time to correct the defective condition. If the injured claims that his injury was caused by defective equipment, then he must show that the owner or the contractor had the authority to supervise or control the "means and methods" of the work and that the owner or contactor directed or controlled the method or manner of the work or provided the injured with the equipment necessary to do the job.
On the other hand, Labor Law § 241(6) imposes a non-delegable duty on owners and general contractors to maintain a safe work site. The injured must also prove a violation of certain sections of the Industrial Code of the State of New York.
In this case, the City’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case. The trial court judge, however, instead of granting their request, found in favor of plaintiff, holding the City liable for causing the man’s accident.
After a trial, the jury awarded plaintiff $2,000,000.00 for past pain and suffering, over $123,000.00 for past lost income, over $162,000.00 for past medical expenses, $3,000,000.00 for future pain and suffering, $400,000.00 for future lost income, and over $1,107,000.00 for future medical expenses.
The City appealed, arguing that plaintiff was also negligent and the jury awards for past pain and suffering and for future pain and suffering were excessive. Appellate judges explained that Labor Law § 241(6) requires owners and contractors to comply with specific safety rules and regulations. Here, the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 241 (6) was based on Industrial Code 12 NYCRR 23-1.7(e)(2), which provides that "floors, platforms and similar areas where persons work or pass shall be kept free from accumulations of dirt and debris and from scattered tools and materials and from sharp projections as may be consistent with the work being performed.” The Court, however, emphasized that this regulation has no application where the object that caused the plaintiff's injury was an integral part of the work being performed.
The Second Appellate Department held that the City violated the safety rule and that such violation was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries, and therefore plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability, and accordingly, upheld the trial court’s decision.
Our attorneys not only zealously litigate but also successfully appeal personal injury cases. Not many law firms can say they were instrumental in changing the law. That’s precisely what we did in 2011. That year, our firm took the case, Wilinski v. 334 East 92nd Housing Development Fund Corp., all the way to New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Our successful appeal set a new precedent which allows construction workers to collect for injuries sustained in accidents that had previously not been protected by the laws of New York State. In Wilinski, we expanded the scope of what type of construction hazards are protected by the law, and in doing so allowed many more construction workers to collect awards for their injuries and economic damages. Other firms now refer to the Wilinski case to establish the merits of their own cases.
Also, keep in mind that a client has the right to change lawyers at any point during his/her personal injury action at no additional cost.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, please reach out to us for a free legal consultation by calling us 24/7 at 212– 514–5100, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting our law firm in lower Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions through the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.