Building Blocks for a Solid Construction Negligence Practice

Since the demise of the Illinois Structural Work Act in 1995, Illinois courts have not always been receptive to injured workers’ arguments in construction negligence cases. GWC has been instrumental in changing this course and successfully arguing for expanded contractor liability. GWC regularly targets defendants who are legally responsible for construction negligence, including general contractors, construction managers, architects, subcontractors, fabricators, material delivery companies and many other types of entities that are responsible for causing injuries to construction workers.

For more than a decade after the Structural Work Act was repealed, the majority of reported Illinois appellate court opinions in construction injury cases were favorable to the defense. One of the few exceptions was a case handled by GWC at both the trial court and appellate court levels: Moss v. Rowe Construction Company, which involved fatal injuries to a young electrician. The trial court in Moss had granted summary judgment for Rowe Construction, the defendant general contractor. But the evidence we were able to bring to the appellate court’s attention clearly demonstrated that Rowe had contractually agreed to control safety on the jobsite. This reality prompted the appellate court to reinstate the case.

More recently, GWC obtained a favorable result in Wilkerson v. Paul H. Schwendener, Inc., wherein a carpenter was injured when he fell from the top of a wall frame in the course of his work. The trial judge, finding that there was not enough evidence to take the case to trial, entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant general contractor. GWC refused to accept this result, and was successful in persuading the appellate court that the trial judge had erred. Evidence that demonstrated extensive control over safety played a crucial role in getting the case reinstated, and later, in obtaining a significant settlement for the plaintiff.

The Illinois appellate court very recently decided Calloway v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., a case involving injuries to one construction worker and the death of his father, with whom he was working on the job. The jury in Calloway had returned a significant verdict for the plaintiffs, and the defendant construction manager, Bovis, mounted numerous legal arguments in an effort to avoid paying it. The appellate court rejected all of Bovis’ arguments, in one instance characterizing them as “overly narrow and formalistic.” Notably, the Calloway court relied heavily on the law that GWC helped to create in Wilkerson.

Here at GWC, our trial lawyers and appellate lawyers all have extensive experience in the field of construction negligence law; and their combined efforts are what allow us to consistently succeed on appeal. The trial lawyers have developed effective investigative and discovery techniques to obtain important documents early on in the case; and we know what questions to ask witnesses in depositions and on the stand at trial. In order to ensure that key evidence is preserved, cases are worked up thoroughly from the very outset. Detailed factual records like this are invaluable to our appellate lawyers – who have a thorough understanding of construction negligence law and constantly stay current on new legal developments – in crafting persuasive and winning arguments; and in expanding the legal protections afforded to the men and women who work in the construction industry in Illinois.

GWC represents construction workers in all different types of construction-related accidents, such as falls off ladders and scaffolds, falls into holes or trenches, equipment failure, materials causing injuries, crane failures, explosions, slips and lifting injuries. Our clients are individuals who have suffered a range of injuries including paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), fractures, disabling back injuries, sprains, strains, carpal tunnel syndrome and numerous other types of job-related injuries. We have also represented countless families who have suffered the loss of loved ones in fatal construction accidents, known as wrongful death cases. If you have been injured in a construction accident, or have lost a member of your family to such an incident, don’t delay. Call us today for a free consultation.