In Construction Accidents Blog

GWC’s Louis Anthony Cairo recently obtained a $1.3 million settlement for a painter who was injured after falling twelve feet off of an insufficiently guarded second-floor staircase landing.

Twelve-Foot Fall from Landing

In June 2015, Mr. Cairo’s client, a professional painter, arrived at a new housing development to paint a residential home under construction. On the date in question, the painter was standing on the second-floor landing of a staircase, spray-painting the crown molding around the door of the master bedroom.

Sometime before that day, a four-foot section of safety guardrail surrounding the landing had been removed, creating an insufficiently safe workspace. As a result, the painter, who was approaching the south side of the flooring while he was distracted by the details of his work, fell twelve feet from the unguarded second-floor landing to the first floor below.

Severe Injuries Sustained

Mr. Cairo’s client sustained severe injuries from his fall, including a right rotator cuff tear, fractures of the right wrist, the right clavicle, and left ribs and vertebrae, cervical trauma, and abrasions of the head.

To repair his injuries, he underwent multiple surgical procedures of the right shoulder, including an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, an arthroscopic subacromial decompression, and an arthroscopic biceps tenotomy with debridement, as well as an open reduction and internal fixation of the right wrist. The client followed up these surgeries with an extensive physical therapy regimen.

Despite this treatment, Mr. Cairo’s client still feels pain and discomfort in his right shoulder and wrist. He also was unable to perform his trade for nearly a year and a half, which placed a significant economic burden on his family, including his wife and two young daughters.

Known Dangerous Defect Not Remedied

In seeking just compensation for his client, Mr. Cairo argued that multiple parties were negligent, including the general contractor and its various subcontractors.

Mr. Cairo asserted that the general contractor had control of the construction project and the authority and responsibility to inspect the work at each residential home to ensure that everything was being done safely and properly – and if it was not, the contractor had the responsibility to remedy or order its subcontractors to remedy any dangerous defect found and to halt any work until the defect was repaired.

“The missing four-foot section of the guardrail was a textbook dangerous defect,” said Mr. Cairo, “because it clearly violated OSHA regulations.”

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) law requires that “Each employee engaged in residential construction activities six feet or more above lower levels shall be protected by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or a personal fall arrest system.” The second-story staircase landing on which the client had been ordered to work was at least twelve feet from the lower level, but a four-foot stretch of the landing was left completely unguarded. The general contractor should have known about this dangerous defect since it required its construction managers to regularly inspect each home to ensure that workers were complying with the company’s safety program each day.

Mr. Cairo was able to establish that at least one construction manager did, in fact, know about this dangerous defect. By his own admission during a sworn deposition, the construction manager said that he was at the home in question and saw the missing section of guardrail at least “a few days” before the painter’s accident, and he ordered a subcontractor to replace it.

“But shockingly, even after becoming aware of this serious safety hazard,” said Mr. Cairo, “he made no effort to follow up with the subcontractor to make sure that the guardrail had been replaced, he never set foot in the home again to confirm that it had been done, and he never told any of the other subcontractors that they should not work in the home because the guardrail was missing – including my client’s employer, an omission that had serious consequences for my client and his family.”

Large Settlement for Satisfied Client

Additionally, Mr. Cairo was able to demonstrate that four of the subcontractors that were working in the house in the days prior to the painter’s fall either had notice of or even caused the missing guardrail. Under their agreement with the general contractor, these contractors had the duty to report any unsafe conditions and to remedy those conditions when ordered. Because of their negligent failure to do so, they also shared financial responsibility for the injuries sustained by Mr. Cairo’s client.

By carefully demonstrating negligence on the part of multiple parties and demonstrating how they contributed to the painter’s injuries, Mr. Cairo was able to obtain a $1.3 million settlement for the client and his family.

Illinois Construction Accident Attorneys

Construction accidents offer some of the most complex cases in personal injury litigation. They demand a comprehensive understanding not only of the applicable law but also of the construction industry and its operations.

In this respect, you can be assured of quality representation when you contact the Illinois construction accident attorneys at GWC Law. GWC is often called the construction injury law firm, with building trade unions and organizations frequently turning to the construction accident attorneys at GWC when a member is injured.

Our reputation in the construction industry and the more than $2 billion recovered for our clients have made GWC one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.

If you have been injured because of somebody else’s negligence, please contact GWC to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 999-9999 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.