Cook County Construction Injury Results in 423,242 Jury Verdict for Crane Accident – Zdanwic v. Gatwood Crane Service

As Chicago nears summer construction season, it becomes increasingly important for Chicago construction employees to practice good workplace safety. Unlike an office job, working construction provides numerous opportunities for accidents to occur. The Illinois personal injury lawsuit of James Zdanwic v. Gatwood Crane Service, Inc., 07 L 9570, is one such example.

In 2006, the plaintiff, James Zdanwic, was working as a tower technician for MDM construction. At the time of the Illinois construction site injury, Zdanwic was working on a job that involved retrofitting a cell tower in Medinah Illinois. The job required a crane, which was leased through Gatewood Crane Service, Inc.

While the Gatewood crane was being operated by a Gatewood Crane Service employee, Zdanwic was assisting the crane operator in the task of pulling out a 1,000 lb. jib. A jib crane is similar to a sailboat boom in that it swings from one side to the other. This 1,000 lbs. fell directly onto of the plaintiff, resulting in severe injuries. In fact, because of the severity of his injuries, Zdanwic has not been able to return to his position as a tower technician, although his employer was able to find him an alternative position as a construction project manager.

As a result of the construction site accident, Zdanwic filed a personal injury claim against the owner of the crane, Gatewood Crane Service. While Gatewood admitted its negligence in the construction site injury, it did contest the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and whether they in fact caused the disability he was claiming.

What is interesting about Gatewood’s position is that typically if a defendant is going to question the nature of a plaintiff’s personal injuries, those personal injuries are generally fairly nonspecific. For example, if a plaintiff was in a car accident and didn’t complain of pain for several days, then a defendant might question whether the pain was in fact caused by the car crash.

However, in Zdanwic’s case not only were his personal injuries obviously related to the construction site injury, but they were indisputably severe in nature. The 1,000 lb. load that fell on Zdanwic crushed his right foot and ankle. Not only did he suffer multiple complex fractures of three of his toes, but also sustained a two-centimeter puncture wound to his food that caused temporary nerve dysfunction. In addition, Zdanwic required arthroscopic surgery for his broken ankle, along with debridement of an anterior ligament.

Again, because of the severe nature of Zdanwic’s injuries, the plaintiff’s experts testified that he was unable to return to his prior position as a tower technician, a conclusion that Zdanwic’s employer also reached. And while the defense contested argued that Zdanwic would have been able to return to his job, apparently the Illinois jury did not agree with the defense’s argument.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $432,242 in compensation for the construction site injury caused by Gatewood Crane’s negligence, $78,080 of which was in payment for lost income. The remainder of the jury verdict was awarded as follows:

$150,000 for past and future loss of normal life;
$150,000 for past and future pain and suffering; and
$45,162 in medical expenses.

However, the plaintiff will not be receiving the full amount of the Illinois personal injury verdict; a portion of the jury verdict will be reduced by the amount of the workers’ compensation lien that was filed by Zdanwic’s employer prior to the trial. MDM Construction’s workers’ compensation lien was $252,474; after the lien is deducted from the jury verdict, Zdanwic will receive $170,768.

And while Gatewood Crane might have been found guilty, it was able to minimize some of the damages against the company. Prior to the personal injury trial, Gatewood Crane purchased the $252,474 workers’ compensation lien from MDM Construction for $174,500. This means that although the verdict is reduced by the full amount of the workers’ compensation lien, Gatewood Crane only had to pay $174,500 of it, saving the crane company almost $78,000.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago construction accidents for more than 35 years in and around Chicago and its surrounding areas, including Chicago’s Saugatuck, Mount Prospect, Willowbrook, Maywood, Northlake, Norridge, and Streamwood.

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