$1.1 Million Settlement in Injury to Worker Who Fell from Unsecured Ladder

Christopher Ramirez, 22, was painting an interior wall of a building where he worked as a handyman. He was standing on the 9th rung of a 14-foot ladder. The ladder shook, slid and then collapsed causing him to fall. He suffered a fracture to his left elbow and bimalleolar fractures to his right ankle.

Ramirez underwent surgery, open reduction internal fixation of the ankle fracture. Two years later, Ramirez underwent decompression surgery to release and reposition the compressed ulnar nerve in his elbow.

Ramirez continues to suffer pain, numbness and a reduced range of motion in his ankle. He walks with a limp. Ramirez will likely require surgery to address the neuropathy of the ankle’s peroneal nerve.

Ramirez sustained reduced strength in his left, nondominant arm. The worker’s compensation claim that Ramirez brought paid all of his medical expenses, which amounted to $21,100 and his past lost earnings, which were $21,900.

Ramirez filed a lawsuit against the owner of the building, claiming violation of the state labor law governing fall-related hazards and a state industrial code provision pertaining to safety requirements for ladders. He alleged that the defendant should have provided a spotter, a way to secure the ladder and adequate footing to prevent slippage.

Ramirez claimed $894,000 in lost future earnings, unspecified future medical expenses and an unspecified amount for past and future pain suffering.

The defendant building owner impleaded Ramirez’s employer claiming that the employer controlled and directed the work. The defendant also argued that the ladder could have been tied off and that Ramirez should have done so before he began working using this ladder.

In addition, the defendant maintained that Ramirez’s injuries had resolved with only minor limitations and that he could obtain other sedentary, less physically demanding work.

Ramirez and the defendant settled before trial for $1.1 million.

At the time of this incident, the building’s owner had entered into a contract to sell the building to the plaintiff’s employer. Under a preoccupation agreement, Ramirez’s employer agreed to indemnify and hold the owner harmless for any claims prior to closing while the employer was in possession of the property. The owner’s insurer paid $650,000, and the employer’s insurance carrier paid $450,000 to make out this settlement. The workers’ compensation lienholder reduced its lien to $29,600.

The attorney representing Ramirez was John G. Rusk. The experts engaged by Ramirez’s attorney were an orthopedic surgeon and an economist. The defense engaged experts in orthopedics and vocational rehabilitation.

Ramirez v. Collier, No. 2239/13 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Ulster County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling work injury cases, construction accident cases, car accident cases, fork lift injury cases and wrongful death cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Winnetka, Wilmette, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Park Ridge, Deerfield, Glencoe, Lake Bluff, Gurnee, Crystal Lake, Grayslake, Round Lake Beach, Cicero, Joliet, Waukegan, Zion, Orland Park, Chicago (Brighton Park, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Rogers Park, Albany Park, Horner Park, Gladstone Park, Garfield Ridge, Englewood, Edgewater, DePaul University Area, Wrigleyville, University of Chicago, South Shore, South Loop, Roscoe Village), Kenilworth, St. Charles, Western Springs, Morton Grove and Geneva, Ill.

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