New York — A 54-year-old construction and demolition worker suffered a fall injury when he fell from a forklift truck. No safety equipment to prevent this had been issued to the man prior to this accident. He was left with a spinal injury. The injured worker consulted with an expert work injury attorney at Morrison & Wagner, who believed that the man was placed in a dangerous situation by the employer. The law firm helped mediate a $500,000 settlement payment to the injury victim.
Illustrative Photo Credit: D Coetzee [License]
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Worker fractured spine in fall off of forklift (VerdictSearch)
Mediated Settlement Amount: $500,000
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Court: Nassau Supreme, Nassau County, New York
Injury Type(s): back-fracture(fracture, L5); vertebra(fracture, L5); other-physical therapy; other-decreased range of motion
Case Type: Workplace – Forklift; Slips, Trips & Falls – Slips, Trips & Falls, Fall from Height
Worker/Workplace Negligence – Labor Law; Alternative Dispute Resolution – Mediation
Date: September 27, 2010
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY
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On July 30, 2008, the plaintiff, 54, a laborer, worked at a boatyard that was located in Oceanside. The plaintiff was demolishing an abandoned houseboat. The residual debris was being placed in drums, and the drums were being loaded onto a forklift, hoisted and transported to a dumpster. During the course of that operation, the worker fell off of the elevated prongs of the forklift. He fell about 10 feet, and he sustained an injury of his back.
The injured worker sued the demolition contractor that hired him, the premises’ owner, and the companies’ common principals. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.
The injury victim, who claimed that he regularly worked for the company, contended that the defendants had not provided a harness or any other equipment that could have prevented his fall. The plaintiff’s expert engineer opined that the absence of such equipment created an unsafe working condition.
The injured man’s counsel contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law § 240(1), and that the plaintiff was not provided the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute.
One of the defendants contended that he had directed the company’s supervisor to fire the workman during the day that preceded the accident, but that the supervisor did not heed the instructions. The defendant claimed that he was not aware that the plaintiff had not been fired.
The work accident victim sustained a fracture of his L5 vertebra. He was transported to a hospital, where he underwent five days of traction. His hospitalization lasted five days, and he subsequently underwent physical therapy.
The plaintiff claimed that he suffers a permanent residual reduction of his back’s range of motion, and he contended that he cannot resume work. The man’s expert orthopedic surgeon determined that Galvan sustained a severe injury and that the plaintiff cannot ambulate without the use of a cane.
The worker sought recovery of his future lost earnings and damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
The defendant’s counsel reported that he commissioned production of a post-accident videotape that proves that the plaintiff does not require a cane.
Each side moved for summary judgment, and the defendant’s insurer commenced a declaratory-judgment action that could have established that the insurer’s coverage did not extend to people who were working at the boatyard. During pendency of the motions and the declaratory-judgment action, the parties negotiated a settlement, which was finalized via the guidance of a mediator. The defendant’s insurer agreed to pay $500,000, from a policy that provided $1 million of coverage.
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Judge: Thomas A. Adams, Joseph P. Spinola
Editor’s Comment: This report is based on court documents and information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.