Construction Accident Nets $2.8 Million Award

A man who required a leg amputation after falling three stories while applying stucco to a building exterior was awarded $2.8 million in damages following his third-party liability lawsuit.

However, his damage award will be reduced by 30 percent, the portion of fault jurors deemed he had in the accident. It’s worthwhile to note that this case, Chin v. Koryo Corp. et al., happened in New Jersey, which abides by a different system of comparative fault than Alabama. Here, we follow a system of pure contributory negligence. That means if a plaintiff is making a claim for damages, that claim will be defeated if defendant can prove negligence on the part of plaintiff – no matter how small.

Another important point is that while this was a work-related injury, this was not a workers’ compensation case. It was a third-party liability lawsuit. Workers cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries (except in rare instances), but they can take action against other responsible parties.

According to court records, plaintiff was a laborer, age 48, working for a subcontractor at a construction site. At the time of the accident, he was seated in a makeshift rope chair. Those in the industry will have heard them referred to as “bosun chairs.” The chair is lowered from the top of the building and allows the worker to sit suspended while working from heights.

While he was dangling, applying stucco, the rope of the chair broke. Worker plummeted three stories onto the concrete below. His right leg sustained severe injuries.

When he was admitted to the hospital, health care workers noted extensive fractures to his leg, including a displaced knee plate and several open fractures. He was required to undergo two separate amputations.

He now walks with a cane and a prosthesis. He still suffers “phantom” pain, and gets heat rash blisters constantly. Pain medication hasn’t helped, and he also reportedly suffers ongoing nightmares and other emotional distress.

Plaintiff filed a construction accident lawsuit against the owner of the building as well as the general contractor and the principal construction company. A tenant was also named as a defendant, though that claim was later dismissed.

The case proceeded against the building owner and general contractor.

Expert witness for plaintiff testified worker was not afforded a safe working environment. Specifically, defendants failed to give him the right kind of equipment to safely do his job at elevated levels.

Where the comparative fault came in was plaintiff conceded he’d actually made the chair himself, though he was assisted by the principal construction company. Defendants pushed hard the narrative of comparative negligence, and in the end, jurors found he shared a third of the blame.

But that didn’t take defendants off the hook. Following a 30-day trial – and absent any successful appeal – they will have to pay $1.9 million in damages to the permanently- injured construction worker. Jurors awarded damages for past medical cost, future medical costs, past lost earnings capacity, future earnings lost, past and future pain and suffering.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

Additional Resources:
Man gets $2.8M in construction site injury settlement, Aug. 27, 2015, By Dave Hutchinson, NJ Advance Media for
More Blog Entries:
BLS Data on Workplace Injuries Highlights Risks of Alabama Work Accidents, Dec. 5, 2012, Montgomery Construction Accident Lawyer Blog

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