A man who suffered a leg amputation after falling 30 feet on cement while working at a construction site in New Jersey has been awarded $2.8 million from the building owner and general contractor.
The plaintiff worker in Chin v. Koryo Corp. et al alleged as a native of Korea who spoke limited English, defendants failed to provide him with proper training and a safe workplace environment in which to perform his duties.
One aspect that harmed his case, however, was the finding of comparative fault stemming from the fact he helped construct the bosun chair, comprised of wood and rope, from which he fell. That fact resulted in jurors in his injury case finding him 30 percent at fault for his own injury. Another issue that damaged his case was the defense assertion that he could find other suitable work, as evidenced by his helping a friend find and purchase a new car, thereby receiving a finder’s fee.
Our Orlando work injury attorneys know there are often numerous challenges in such cases, and often the first is overcoming the exclusive remedy provision of workers’ compensation laws.
In Florida, workers’ compensation is the only remedy workers have to pursue action against an employer for a work-related injury. Workers’ compensation is a deal between workers and employers. Workers give up the right to sue an employer for injuries, and employers agree to pay workers’ medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages while they recover – regardless of who was negligent.
If an employer carries workers’ compensation insurance and the worker is an “employee” as opposed to an “independent contractor,” that is the only remedy employee has against the company.
However, this does not prevent the worker from taking action against third parties who also may have been negligent in contributing to the work accident. So in this case, it was the owner of the building and the general contractor – who were not worker’s direct employers, though they did owe a duty to create a safe work environment. In some cases, workers may also pursue product liability claims if it was a failure of equipment that resulted in injury.
According to court records in this case, plaintiff, a 48-year-old male, was working at a construction site, applying stucco to the outside surface of the building. He was seated in a makeshift rope-chair, called a bosun chair, that was lowered down from the top of the building. While he was dangling, the rope broke and he fell three stories, suffering severe injuries to his right leg.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration investigated and found the building owner had violated key safety provisions.
Although he initially named numerous defendants, the only defendants against whom claims proceeded to trial were claims against the building owner and general contractor.
An expert witness for plaintiff testified worker was not provided a safe workplace environment. Specifically, he should have been given appropriate equipment in order to complete the type of elevated work that was required of him.
Although jurors award him $2.8 million, he will actually only receive $1.9 million, in consideration of the 30 percent comparative fault finding.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Man gets $2.8M in construction site injury lawsuit, Aug. 27, 2015, By Dave Hutchinson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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