Compared to many jobs, construction work is a dangerous field. For most office workers, their job’s safety policies involve emergency situations, like a fire. However, for construction workers, safety policies and procedures are a part of their every day tasks. These safety policies and procedures are helps many construction site injuries and are essential to decreasing the number of injured construction workers.
Therefore, when these policies and procedures are not in place, the likelihood of a construction site injury increases. In the New York case of Carmona v. Dormitory Authority of New York, No. 303798/08 (N.Y., Bronx Co. June 10, 2011), a construction worker filed a personal injury lawsuit alleging that his work injury was caused by a lack of safety procedures.
Forty-one year-old Raymond Carmona was working as an ironworker at the time of his injury. Carmona was in the process of removing an old steel awning from a New York building owned by the Dormitory Authority of New York when he struck his head on a duct. Carmona lost his balance and fell 25 feet to the ground below. As a result of the fall, Carmona fractured his coccyx and sacrum and severely injured his lower back. His injuries eventually required a fusion surgery to his lower back, severely limiting his future mobility.
Carmona filed a personal injury lawsuit against the building owner, Dormitory Authority of New York; the project manger, Hill International, Inc.; and the subcontractor, Dirks Heating Company. In his complaint, Carmona alleged that the defendants violated New York’s labor laws by choosing not to make his work area safe. Carmona alleged that if the defendants had provided a work harness or scaffolds for him to work on that he would not have fallen and sustained the subsequent injuries.
As part of his personal injury lawsuit, Carmona was claiming damages for both past and future medical expenses in the amount of $87,000 and $1.5 million, respectively. In addition, Carmona claimed that he was unable to return to his job as an ironworker because of his injuries. At the time of his construction accident, Carmona was earning $54,000 a year as an ironworker. According to his attorney, he incurred an estimated $215,000 in past lost wages and will lose an unspecified lost future income based on his inability to return to his prior job.
The construction accident lawsuit settled prior to going to trial; therefore, it is unclear on what the defendants’ ultimate defense would have been. However, there is evidence that the defendants disputed that Carmona’s back problems were related to his fall. Rather, the defendants alleged that his back problems were caused by a prior injury in the hopes of diverting the expenses for his surgery on an unrelated injury. And while the defendants conceded that Carmona would be unable to return to his job as an ironworker, they maintained that he would be able to find work in a different field at the same salary.
Ultimately, all parties ended up settling for $6.4 million during a mediation. Dirks Heating would be responsible for paying $5.4 million, while Hill International was responsible for paying $1 million. Based on this report, it would appear that the building owner, Dormitory Authority of New York, was not responsible for contributing to the settlement and that the construction companies shouldered the burden.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois construction site injuries for individuals and families for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Chicago’s Calumet Park, Chicago’s Hyde Park, Chicago Heights, Midlothian, Justice, Western Springs, Melrose Park, and Elmwood Park.
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