A construction job site can be a confusing place. Not only is there the obvious confusion created by the construction itself, but the different levels of workers and managers further complicates matters. The tangled web of responsibility and liability on construction job sites becomes evident in the wake of a construction site injury, as lawyers sit down and try to determine whose to blame.
Consider the Illinois personal injury case of Piotr Mieszkowski v. Patel Builders Inc., Divyadeep Patel v. Illinois Brick Layers Inc., 08 L 4113. Piotr Mieszkowski was working as a brick layer at a job in South Barrington, a northwest suburb of Chicago. While at the construction site, the twenty-nine year-old Mieszkowski was being supervised by his boss from Illinois Brick Layers, Inc. Mieszkowski spent the majority of the morning working on building large stone columns and railings at the Barrington residence.
However, problems arose when Mieszkowski’s boss left the construction site. While his direct supervisor was away, the construction job’s general contractor asked Mieszkowski and his co-worker to help empty a large storage container. It was while performing this task, which had nothing to do with his actual job at the construction site, that Mieszkowski became injured. A large, heavy box fell on his ankle as he was emptying the storage container. Mieszkowski suffered a severe ankle fracture and needed to undergo an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery during which pins and rods were placed in his ankle to fix the fractured bone in place.
Mieszkowski brought a personal injury lawsuit against Divyadeep Patel, the general contractor, and his company, Patel Builders Inc. The Illinois complaint alleged that Mieszkowski was emptying the storage/shipping container per Patel’s request. The complaint contended that Mieszkowski would not have been injured if Patel had not instructed him to empty the storage container. Safety is a large part of any construction job and there are many rules and regulations regarding the training of construction site employees. Therefore, asking an employee to perform a duty that he is not trained for, no matter how seemingly simple, has the potential to expose different construction entities to liability.
However, at the Cook County trial, Patel denied that he sent Mieszkowski into the storage container. Likewise, the defendants’ attorney argued that plaintiff’s actions in performing the job created the situation that resulted in his ankle injury. The defense attorney contended that the plaintiff had been propping himself against other boxes in the storage unit in order to gain leverage and that doing so caused one of the heavy boxes to fall onto his ankle.
In addition, the defendant general contractor’s attorney contended that Mieszkowski’s employer, Illinois Brick Layers, Inc., was also responsible for the construction site injury. The bricklayer company was brought into the personal injury lawsuit as a third party defendant. Presumably the basis for the general contractor’s defense was that Mieszkowski would not have been injured if his supervisor had been at the work site.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $218,672:
-$104,672 for past medical expenses,
-$25,000 for future medical expenses,
-$25,000 for past pain and suffering,
-$50,000 for future pain and suffering, and
-$14,000 for lost wages.
Because of the large number of parties involved, when reviewing the case facts the Illinois jury needed to apportion fault to Mieszkowski, the general contractor, and Mieszkowski’s employer. It determined that Patel Builders and Divyadeep Patel were 75% responsible for the construction site injury, with Mieszkowski being 15% at fault, and Illinois Brick Layers 10% responsible. Because the jury found Mieszkowski to be 15% responsible for his own injury, the verdict was reduced by 15%, leaving Mieszkowski with a final award of $185,871.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois construction site injury lawsuits for over 35 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Inverness, Woodridge, Deer Park, and Blue Island.
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