New York Construction Accident Lawyers, Brand Brand Nomberg & Rosenbaum, LLP, aggressively litigate our cases for every one of our clients to obtain the best possible resolution, either by verdict or settlement. We understand and appreciate how the lives of our clients and their families are depending upon what we do, so we fight as if each client were a member of our own family. We do not give up or back down, and we do not hand off our cases to another law firm to litigate. We will do everything that is necessary to gather evidence and win their case.
A Construction Worker is Forced to Work Under Dangerous Work Conditions
Construction workers have dangerous jobs and are asked to do work at elevated heights, increasing the risk of a fall. In this particular case, our client was an electrician whose company was hired to help build a new luxury apartment building on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Our client needed to use an 8-foot A-frame ladder to reach the ceiling to install temporary lighting. However, the entire floor was constantly littered with so much heavy construction debris that it was impossible to place the legs of this ladder onto the floor.
The legs of a 6-foot A-frame ladder were smaller apart and could fit between the piles of construction debris, but that ladder was not high enough to reach the ceiling except by standing on the very top of the ladder which was not safe. Our client made numerous complaints for months about the construction debris to representatives of the owner and the Site Safety Manager, but nothing was changed. The construction debris continued without being removed or cleared, and our client, unless he wanted to be fired, had no choice but to work under these dangerous conditions.
The Accident that Changed His Life Forever
On the morning of the accident, the client’s foreman told him to once again put up the overhead temporary lighting despite the unsafe conditions. The plaintiff was not given anyone else to help stabilize him while working, or to stabilize the ladder. When the plaintiff reminded his foreman about the unsafe conditions, he was told that there was nothing he could do, and the foreman then left the construction site for a personal errand.
Our client began working using the 6 foot A-frame ladder to install the temporary ceiling lighting. The client worked while stepping on the very top of the ladder and could barely reach the top due to his height. As the client began to step down from the top step of the ladder, the ladder started to tip and both he and the ladder fell onto piles of wooden planks, metal piping, and other debris that was covering the entire concrete floor.
The client suffered terrible injuries from the accident. As a result of the fall, the client had to undergo three different surgeries performed on his knees. The client also required spinal surgery on his lower back due to the constant pain shooting down his legs. As a result of the accident, the client’s treating doctors determined he suffered a permanent disability and was unable to return to construction work, or any other type of work.
An Injured Construction Worker Needed our Help
Our client was referred to our law firm by a friend. BBNR, New York Construction Accident Lawyers, told our client that we could absolutely help him. Because this was a work-related accident, in addition to a personal injury suit, we also represented him for a Workers Compensation claim. Workers Compensation benefits would help quickly obtain lost wages and coverage for medical treatment while we litigate the personal injury lawsuit.
We did not waste any time and immediately commenced the personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the property and construction management company. During the litigation, we took the depositions (sworn testimony) of the defendant’s site manager, the client’s foreman, and one of the Site Safety Managers. We also demanded and obtained all the construction records for the project which included the accident report, daily work records, photographs of the work, and safety inspection reports.
The Law for Construction Accidents
In New York, there are specific laws that were made to protect construction workers. For most accidents, an injured person must prove the defendant was negligent, meaning, they failed to act reasonably which resulted in some unsafe condition.
New York Construction Accident Lawyers understand that for construction accidents, an injured worker does not need to show the defendant was negligent for all accidents. If the injury is sustained because the worker was at some height above ground, then the failure of the owner of the building to provide proper safety devices to protect the worker from a fall will be sufficient to win the case as a matter of law. The law enacted is New York Labor Law Section 240.
This law also applies to falling objects as well. For example, if a person is struck in the head after a paint can falls on them, that is a gravity related risk and Labor Law 240 will apply.
Even if the owner of the building was not involved in directing the specific work, the owner will be responsible for the accident. The law was designed this way because the owner of the property is the person who ultimately pays the contractors to perform the work. The person who pays the bills is the person who ultimately can control the work, as well as what safety devices are provided. Owners must choose contractors who protect their employees from unsafe conditions and provide proper safety equipment.
The Judge Makes a Major Mistake
With all this information, we made a motion to the Supreme Court judge arguing that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law Section 240, in failing to provide proper safety equipment and working conditions. BBNR, New York Construction Accident Lawyers, demanded that the defendant should be found one hundred percent at fault for the accident and our client’s injuries as a matter of law.
The defendants argued that our client was completely at fault for doing work that he knew was unsafe. In response, I brought it to the court’s attention that since the client was specifically directed to perform this work by his supervisor, the law is clear that he cannot be found at fault for the accident. A worker cannot be blamed for an accident when he is following the specific direction of his supervisor to perform the work, regardless of whether the worker appreciates it is unsafe.
The judge denied our motion, failing to follow the law and instead siding with the defendant’s arguments. While this was an unfortunate setback, the battle was far from over. We immediately appealed the lower court’s decision to the higher court, the Appellate Division.
BBNR Appeals the Judge’s Decision
Under similar circumstances, many personal injury law firms hire outside counsel to appeal which can cost ten to twenty thousand dollars of attorney fees to the client. However, New York Construction Accident Lawyers Brand Brand Nomberg & Rosenbaum, LLP are experienced appellate attorneys as well as trial attorneys. We wrote the legal briefs and argued the appeal before 4 appellate judges at no additional a cost to the client. Because we understand the case better than anyone, we understand that it is always preferable for the trial attorney handling the case to write and argue the appeal.
The oral argument before the Appellate Judges went very well. One of the judges however was not easily persuaded, but knowing the facts and law so well, I was able to answer the judge’s questions to explain why his concerns were not valid.
I was confident that we would be victorious leaving the courtroom that day but understood that one never really knows what the judges are going to decide until we receive the decision. Sometimes it can take up to six months or longer for a decision, but within 30 days of argument, we received a decision from the Appellate Division stating we had won the appeal as the lower court failed to follow the law.
It was a big victory for our client. The lower court’s decision was reversed, and now the defendants were found to be 100 hundred percent at fault as a matter of law for the accident. It took almost a month just to prepare and submit the legal briefs, but for us at BBNR, New York Construction Accident Lawyers, it was time well spent. A quote from part of the Appellate Division decision states as follows:
Denial of summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1) was in error where plaintiff electrician was injured when he fell from an A-frame ladder as he was attempting to descend it. Plaintiff’s use of a six-foot ladder that required him to stand on the top step did not make him the sole proximate cause of his accident where the eight-foot ladder could not be opened in the space due to the presence of construction debris.
An Unexpected Tragedy Befalls our Client
It was great news for the litigation, but what followed shortly after was terrible and tragic. We learned that our client made a suicide attempt. The pain and suffering from this accident, the loss of his ability to work, and the affect this had on him and his relationship with his family was devastating for the client.
We wanted to proceed as quickly as possible to trial. However, because the courts are so backlogged with cases, the normal waiting time for a trial date was not for another 2 years.
We were greatly concerned that the client’s mental and physical state could not handle waiting another 2 years for trial. As a result, BBNR, New York Construction Accident Lawyers, made a motion to the lower court judge asking for an expedited trial in the interests of justice. These motions are not easily granted since it is basically asking for court permission to cut ahead of the line. However, we carefully presented the medical evidence to the court, provided a medical affidavit in support, and this time the judge sided with us and granted our motion.
The Defendants Feel the Pressure to settle for Millions
Having won that motion, it immensely helped raise the pressure upon the defendants to make a substantial settlement offer since a trial would only be a few months away. We convinced the defendant to go to mediation to try and agree on a fair settlement amount.
A settlement is almost always better than proceeding with trial since there will be no further appeals or litigation, and the money will be sent to the client within 30 days of the settlement. Of course, that assumes that the defendant is willing to settle for an amount that fairly compensates the client for their injuries. It is important for New York Construction Accident Lawyers to know when to recommend settling a case and when to recommend continuing with the litigation for trial.
After lengthy negotiations, the defendants agreed to settle the case for $3.65 million dollars. The client was relieved and grateful. We were extremely satisfied to see that our efforts, with the ups and downs of litigation, worked to obtain a sizable award for our client.
Brand Brand Nomberg & Rosenbaum, LLP, New York Construction Accident Lawyers has been in business practicing personal injury law for over 40 years, helping clients and their families injured in all construction accidents, and other accidents as well. We also handle all work-related accidents for Workers Compensation claims.
At BBNR, New York Construction Accident Lawyers, we care about the welfare of all our clients and understand they rely upon us to aggressively fight for their cause. If you were injured in an accident or know someone that may need experienced New York Construction Accident Lawyers on their side, call us at 212-808-0448. The consultation is free, and we do not charge any fee unless win.