Ironworker Trips on Decking Material
GWC’s client was a 43-year-old union ironworker and a proud member of Local 1. In October 2015, he was performing structural steel work as a subcontractor on a high-rise construction project in downtown Chicago.
The client was walking to the gang ladders leading to his point of work when he tripped and fell on scrap decking material that had been stacked in the area.
Fall Results in Serious Injuries
As a result of his fall, the client sustained a torn right rotator cuff with a subluxation of the biceps tendon, lateral epicondylitis of the right elbow, radial tunnel syndrome of the right forearm, and a patellar cartilage defect with malalignment of the left knee. In an effort to treat these injuries, he had to undergo multiple surgical procedures, including:
- Complex tendon repair of the right rotator cuff with intra-articular debridement and subacromial decompression;
- Right radial nerve decompression through the radial tunnel with supinator tenotomy;
- Arthroscopy of the left knee with articular cartilage debridment;
- Open patellar osteochondral allograft of the left knee with lateral lengthening and tibial tubercle osteotomy; and
- Left knee diagnostic arthroscopy with partial lateral meniscectomy and open hardware removal.
Despite this extensive treatment, the client was placed on permanent medical restrictions for kneeling, squatting, crawling, and lifting. Consequently, he was unable to perform the duties of his job as a union ironworker, costing him his trade of more than two decades.
GWC Overcomes Defense Objections
The union ironworker retained GWC as his personal injury attorneys. The firm filed suit against the general contractor and the decking subcontractor on the project, asserting that both parties were responsible for the ironworker’s fall.
Mr. Sorce and Mr. Jacobs argued that the decking subcontractor created a tripping hazard by placing stacks of excess pieces of decking in a major walkway for a period of several weeks without marking or roping them off in any way. Furthermore, the subcontractor stacked the decking in an area where the sun was blocked by the concrete core of the building and where there was also no artificial lighting, making it even more difficult to see the hazard.
Additionally, GWC argued that the project’s general contractor shared responsibility for the incident. The company took immediate legal action in response.
“The general contractor denied any liability and filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit against it,” Mr. Jacobs explained.
GWC’s counterarguments convinced the judge to reject the motion. The firm established that the general contractor had control over the means and methods of both the decking subcontractor’s work and the overall safety of the entire project. Therefore, its failure to ensure that the obvious tripping hazard was remedied made the general contractor liable for the union ironworker’s injuries.
Thanks to their expert deposition work, Mr. Sorce and Mr. Jacobs were also able to rebut the Defense’s medical expert, who had opined that the client’s injuries were preexisting. In addition, they successfully thwarted the opinions of vocational and OSHA safety experts who were attempting to minimize the Defendants’ liability.
Furthermore, GWC invested considerable amounts preparing exhibits that visually illustrated all of the operative steps of the client’s surgeries, as well as an animation demonstrating how the stored scraps created a latent hazard not seen by workers.
Large Settlement for Satisfied Client
By skillfully preparing this case for trial, not settlement, GWC was able to obtain a premium offer for the client: $2.9 million, more than four times the offer that was on the table a week before the scheduled trial. Additionally, GWC obtained a $360,370.96 waiver on the client’s workers’ compensation lien, resulting in a net gain of $3,260,370.96.
“This unfortunate accident robbed our client of his livelihood,” said Mr. Sorce. “We’re happy we were able to help him provide for his family.”
Have You Been Injured in a Construction Accident?
Construction accidents pose some of the greatest challenges in personal injury litigation. They require comprehensive knowledge of the operations of the construction industry, state law, and federal regulations. To help increase their chances of a successful outcome, injured workers have been turning to the construction accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC for more than four decades.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. We have represented members of nearly all of the major building trades unions in the state, earning a reputation as “the construction accident law firm.” These unions count on GWC to represent their members when a serious construction accident occurs because they have seen our results firsthand.
If you have been wrongfully injured, contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with a knowledgeable attorney. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.