Result: $2.5M Settlement Over Trench Fall on Construction Site

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., Obtains $2.5 Million Settlement for Union Laborer Who Fell Through Temporary Platform on Manhattan worksite.

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., was successful in recovering $2.5 million in compensation for an injured construction worker who was injured on a worksite in Manhattan. The case stems from an incident which took place in March 2002, when the plaintiff, a union laborer, had been building a walkway which would have traversed a trench containing pipes.

While working inside the trench, the plaintiff had been instructed that he would be able to stand on a temporary platform erected to protect the pipes from being damaged. During the course of his work, however, the platform shifted, and the plaintiff fell to the bottom of the trench. He suffered serious injuries to his knees as a result.

In a lawsuit filed against the owner of the job site and the property management group, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., brought several claims against the defendants, including claims that:

  • The platform was not properly safeguarded and secured as required by Labor Law 241(6);
  • The worksite violated general workplace safety regulations as established by Labor Law 200;
  • The accident resulted from a Labor Law 240(1) elevation-related hazard; and
  • The plaintiff was not provided adequate safety equipment.

As a result of the accident, the plaintiff was taken to a local hospital by ambulance for treatment. In the following weeks, physicians determined the plaintiff had suffered a tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee, which necessitated three arthroscopic surgeries, each of which was followed by three months of bi-weekly physical therapy sessions.

The plaintiff claimed the knee injury constituted a permanent partial disability which prevented him from resuming physical labor, as it was consistently unstable and occasionally became locked. The expert orthopedic surgeon supported his claims, and an expert economist determined the plaintiff’s calculated past and future lost earnings at roughly $5.9 million, though the estimate did not offset alternative earnings. The plaintiff sought compensation for both his financial damages and physical pain and suffering.

The defense argued they did not supervise the worksite nor control the erection or placement of the temporary platform, and that the plaintiff should have secured the platform. They further contented the plaintiff’s injuries resulted from pre-existing degenerative conditions, rather than from the accident, and that two of the surgeries performed on his knee were “unnecessary.” A vocational rehabilitation expert for the defense also argued the plaintiff’s estimated lost earnings were calculated using flawed methodology, but did not provide their own calculation.

Despite arguments from the defense, the presiding judge granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. While an appeal from the defense was pending, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., was able to negotiate a $2.5 million settlement. No determination of each defendant’s contribution to the settlement was required, as both were insured by the same carrier.

The Perecman Firm P.L.L.C., handles more construction accident cases each year than many attorneys ever handle in the entire course of their careers. This experience affords our team great leverage in negotiating full and fair settlements for injured workers in a variety of complex cases.