Recently, while I was walking in Center City Philadelphia on my way to a deposition, I took notice of the many construction projects occurring in various sites throughout my journey. Visit any major city and you are bound to see a skyscraper being constructed. Although construction sites can provide workers with good jobs, there are also many dangerous aspects of those jobs.
For example, in a recent case, a 20-year old construction worker was on a scaffold in New York installing metal siding on a building. The worker was asked to go to the roof of the building to provide assistance for a different job. The worker went to the roof wearing his safety harness, but was unable to find a place to tie off. While he was on the roof, he fell about 20 feet to the ground. The construction worker suffered many severe injuries, including a head injury, spinal fractures, rib fractures, and internal injuries including a renal hematoma, a lung contusion, a lacerated spleen, and cervical and lumbar disk herniations.
Even worse, as a result of his head injury the worker developed degeneration of the brain tissue, which is a condition called encephalomalacia. This resulted in memory loss, motor problems, and impaired thought-processing and other cognitive functions. He is permanently disabled as a result of his injuries from the accident.
The construction worker sued the building’s owner and the general contractor on the construction project. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated a state law that governs elevation-related hazards. He further alleged that the roof lacked a safe anchor point where he could tie of his harness and that the defendants failed to provide any other kind of safety equipment. The defendants brought into the case the plaintiff’s employer and two related entities. The building owner and general contractor argued that the plaintiff’s employer and the two related entities directed and controlled the work that was being done at the construction site. The defendants denied that the plaintiff suffered permanent cognitive impairments or was permanently disabled from working.
The case proceeded to trial and the jury found that the building owner and the general contractor were liable. A second jury then awarded $62 million, including $42 million for future pain and suffering and $20 million for past pain and suffering. Before the trial, the parties agreed that the plaintiff’s past medical expenses totaled about $60,100. After the jury’s verdict, the judge added the $60,100 to the jury’s award. The total award to the plaintiff was approximately $62.06 million. An appeal is pending.
The case shows just one of the many dangers that are inherent in jobs at construction sites. Because there often are so many different companies, personnel, and equipment involved at large-scale construction job sites, the odds that an accident will happen are fairly high. The consequences of a construction accident, as we saw above, can be catastrophic.
Here at Stark & Stark, we have represented many workers who have been injured at construction sites due to someone else’s negligence. A construction accident case can be complicated and it often requires a team of attorneys. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a construction accident, it is recommended that you seek experienced counsel immediately.