In Construction Accidents Blog, Firm News
union carpenter

Michael D. Fisher

GWC Partner Michael D. Fisher has obtained a $500,000.00 settlement for a union carpenter who was seriously injured on a construction site as a result of an improperly secured diaphragm.

Loose Diaphragm Shifts Under Foot

Mr. Fisher’s client has been a union carpenter and proud member of Local 250 for over twenty years. In 2014, the client was installing “false work” on top of the steel skeleton of a bridge construction project in Milwaukee, WI. On September 22, he was erecting “hangers” over previously erected steel girders. The hangers would ultimately support other false work that would serve as the forms for pouring the bridge’s concrete deck. To perform this task, the client and his co-employees had to walk across diaphragms running between the girders.

As the client was crossing over a diaphragm to get to the north-most girder, the diaphragm shifted, causing him to lose his balance, lunge forward, and grab the safety line in front of him to keep from falling. In so doing, he felt a “pop” in his neck and between his shoulders.

Severe Injuries for Union Carpenter

Because of this incident, Mr. Fisher’s client sustained a cervical herniated disk and spondylosis at C6-7 with C7 root impingement. This caused severe pain in the neck, between the shoulder blades, and throughout the left arm and hand with weakness, numbness, and tingling. As a result of his injuries, he required surgery in the form of an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at C6-7 with an inter-body cage, a bone matrix, and anterior plating. Following the surgery, he underwent an extensive physical therapy regimen. Fortunately, GWC’s client was able to return to work, full duty, eight months after his injury.

GWC Shows Defendant Breached Contractual Obligations

In seeking fair compensation for the union carpenter and his family, Mr. Fisher argued that the Defendant, a steel erector, breached multiple contractual obligations, thereby putting his client and his fellow carpenters at risk.

The Defendant had the subcontract to erect steel on the bridge construction project. As part of its contract, the Defendant promised to furnish labor, equipment, and supervision to install the steel, and it agreed to coordinate with the other contractors, including the client’s employer, the carpentry firm hired to erect false work. The Defendant also agreed to take responsibility for the accuracy of its work and to comply with federal safety regulations in its erection and construction.

The Defendant’s chief responsibility was to erect structural steel, which included steel girders and steel diaphragms connecting the girders to each other. These diaphragms ran perpendicular to the girders and connected to them with anchor bolts. By its own admission, the Defendant should have attached each diaphragm with a full complement of bolts within 24 hours of the structure’s erections because a diaphragm held in place with only two bolts would be “less stable.”

During sworn depositions with the Defendant’s employees and the client’s co-workers, Mr. Fisher was able to establish that the Defendant failed to install a full complement of bolts in the diaphragms – even though the client and his fellow carpenters were expected to walk on them.

“It was not the carpenters’ job to inspect the diaphragms,” said Mr. Fisher. “It was the Defendant’s responsibility to make sure they were all fully bolted and safe for my client to walk on. They were not.”

Because of the Defendant’s negligence, an improperly bolted diaphragm shifted when the client stepped on it, causing him to be seriously injured.

Based on Mr. Fisher’s representation, the Defendant settled the case for half a million dollars.

How GWC Helps Injured Construction Workers

Construction workers are among the members of the workforce who are most at risk for suffering serious, sometimes deadly injuries on the job. Construction accidents also present some of the most challenging personal injury cases around. To achieve a successful outcome, a construction injury lawsuit demands comprehensive knowledge not only of the relevant laws and regulations but also of the industry and its operations.

In this respect, if you have been injured on a construction job, you can be assured of quality representation when you contact the construction accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers, where we have successfully represented injured construction trade workers since 1977. In fact, GWC is frequently called the construction injury law firm, with trade unions and organizations often turning to us first whenever a union carpenter or other type of member is injured.

With over $2 billion recovered for our clients, GWC has a proven record of success helping injured construction workers and their families obtain the justice they deserve.

If you or a loved one has been wrongfully injured, please contact GWC today to schedule a free, 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.