Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

New construction in the U.S. is at an all-time high. According to the 2017 Rider Levett Bucknall Crane index, Chicago makes the top three, along with Seattle and Los Angeles, among cities with the most cranes in operation in the U.S. at the start of 2017.

In many of the construction sites as one travels into the Chicago Loop and surrounding area, you will see many towering cranes in operation. However, it has been noted by insurance specialists that when cranes are being moved on and off a job-site is the riskiest time because that is when most injuries or damages occur. Most of the cranes in operation in the Chicago area are mobile cranes.

Most of the insurance policies written for liability are on mobile cranes. In order to bring such a mobile crane to a construction site, particularly in Chicago’s Loop and surrounding areas, transporters use large flatbed trucks — usually those with 16 wheels or 12 wheels. To assemble the crane at the job-site, tower cranes and larger cranes have to be dismantled, trucked in and then reassembled on site.

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A lineman working for an electrical contractor identified in this confidential settlement and lawsuit as Mr. Doe was hired to install a new electrical switch and cross arm at the top of a wooden utility pole. Mr. Doe climbed the pole and then strapped his work-positioning belt around himself and the pole. While Mr. Doe was adjusting his position, the belt came up over the top of the pole causing him to disconnect from it. Mr. Doe fell 60 feet to the ground and suffered catastrophic injuries.

Doe, 28, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury affecting his brain stem, spinal fractures resulting in incomplete quadriplegia and other orthopedic injuries.

Mr. Doe now has memory loss and other cognitive problems, including speech and vision deficits, lost sense of smell, severe headaches, spasticity in all four limbs and neurogenic bladder and bowel issues.

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Joanne Turner, an electrician, was working on a roof of a community college building that was under construction. As she climbed a 20-foot roof access ladder, she slipped and fell about 15 feet to the concrete floor below.

Turner was 53 years old at the time. As a result of this fall, she suffered an L-2 burst fracture, a fractured right femur and foot and bilateral knee injuries.

Turner underwent open reduction internal fixation of the femur fracture. She also required the implantation of a retrograde nail in her right knee. She was hospitalized for about a week. She spent twelve days in an inpatient rehabilitation facility and remained off her leg for about two-and-a-half months. She was also required to wear a back brace for an additional three months.

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Ignacio Maravilla was working as a laborer during a River North construction project at Wabash Avenue and Superior Street for Holy Name Cathedral on March 27, 2012. He was employed by Benchmark Construction Co.

As a 72-inch precast concrete flat-top slab was being hoisted, one of its imbedded steel lifting loops failed and broke off the slab, which struck Maravilla in the head and face.

The concrete slab with the imbedded loop inserts was designed and manufactured by the defendant Welch Brothers Inc. This lawsuit was for the injuries suffered by Maravilla because of the product defect of the concrete slab hoisting device.

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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.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the Union Pacific Railroad Co. did not maintain control over a bridge demolition project after selling the bridge to a scrap contractor. During work on the demolition, a bridge wall severed Patrick Joseph Carney’s legs below the knee. The accident occurred more than ten years ago.

In a 6-1 decision, the high court ruled the railroad was not negligent in selecting the contractor, Happ Inc., in Chicago Heights, Ill. The court also ruled that the railroad did not definitively know about the location of a steel plate that was part of what caused the injuries to Carney because the bridge was built in the early 20th century, and it was not in use when the company bought it.

This Illinois Supreme Court’s decision affirmed the ruling by a Cook County circuit court judge who initially granted summary judgment for the railroad before reversing the decision twice after each party moved for reconsideration. The Supreme Court’s decision reinstated summary judgment for the railroad.

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Robert Howard was a 55-year-old truck driver when he arrived at a Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. facility to transport steel machine equipment. His flatbed tractor trailer was directed to a loading area where a Nucor employee was operating the crane to be used for loading the equipment onto Howard’s flatbed truck.

The Nucor employee positioned the load parallel to and partially above the trailer. While Howard attempted to place wood dunnage, a securing device, into the proper position on the trailer, the Nucor employee unexpectedly moved the 50,000-pound load, causing it to strike the dunnage. This forced Howard off the trailer. He suffered a compression fracture to his left heel bone as a result of his fall.

Howard underwent surgery and continues to have problems with mobility and pain. He has not returned to his job, in which he has been paid $22,600 per year. He has incurred medical expenses of about $46,000.

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Joseph Sondag was alleged in this lawsuit to have been exposed to asbestos dust from drywall tape manufactured by Tremco when he worked as a plasterer from 1957 to 1983. In 2007, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis.

At trial, Sondag’s treating physician, Dr. Al Rossi, testified that these conditions were probably caused by on-the-job exposure to asbestos. However, Dr. Rossi did not diagnose Sondag as suffering any symptoms from this condition.

According to Sondag’s wife, Phyllis, and their daughter, he suffered from shortness of breath. But he was an ex-smoker and was 82 when the case was tried. There was no expert testimony that the pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis were symptomatic.

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A Chicago real estate developer, Perry Casalino, hired Ramon Gavina as a laborer to install wallpaper inside the entrance of a building at 1513 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Gavia maintained that Casalino purchased materials and tools, instructed him as to how to perform the work and told him to climb up on a scaffold to hang the wallpaper.

When Gavina climbed on top of the scaffolding on Jan. 14, 2009, it collapsed. He fell to the ground and sustained a tibial plateau fracture in his knee.  The injury will require surgery as recommended by his orthopedic surgeon.

Gavina sued Casalino and his company. Casalino and, on behalf of his development company, denied that he was present at the time of the incident, denied that he owned the scaffolding and denied knowing the owner of the scaffold.

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Anthony Cozzone was employed by Fellows Roofing when he was killed in a work accident. The Cozzone estate filed a lawsuit against a third party who settled with the Cozzone family for $745,000. The attorney representing the family received attorney fees of 33% or $248,333. In the meantime, a jury in a contribution case decided that Fellows Roofing was 100% responsible for the accident that killed Cozzone. Fellows Roofing waived its statutory workers’ compensation lien under Section 5(b) and requested that the trial judge dismiss the contribution case.

Fellows had already paid $117,539 in benefits for Cozzone’s 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons based on an order from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission that required the employer to pay $466 a week until the children turned 18 (or 25 if they continued to be full-time students). The $745,000 settlement was paid by the owner and tenant of the building where the fatal incident took place.

As part of the settlement, the owner of the building and tenant assigned to the family of Cozzone the rights they had against Fellows under the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act.

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