Result: $2.45 Million Settlement for a Union Operating Engineer Who Was Injured in 15-Foot Fall

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., secured a $2,450,000 settlement for a union operating engineer who was injured after falling 15 feet from a temporary elevated walkway.

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., represented a client who suffered a concussion, a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra, a herniation of his L5-S1 intervertebral disc, and trauma that produced bulges of discs of his spine’s cervical region.

On April 20, 2012, the plaintiff, an engineer, worked at a construction site at a bridge where he was inspecting ongoing work. During the course of his duties, he fell off of a temporary catwalk. He plummeted a distance of about 15 feet, and he landed on the bridge’s surface. He claimed that he suffered injuries of an ankle, his back, his head, and his neck.

The plaintiff sued the bridge’s owner. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant negligently failed to provide a safe workplace. He further alleged that the defendant’s failure constituted a violation of the New York State Labor Law.

The catwalk’s walking surface comprised a series of planks. The plaintiff claimed that he fell when one plank shifted beneath his feet. He claimed that he was holding the catwalk’s railing, but that the railing collapsed. He contended that the catwalk was not safe. The plaintiff’s counsel contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law § 240(1), and that the plaintiff was not provided the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute.

Defense counsel claimed that the catwalk was not intended for use by anyone other than ironworkers. Defense counsel alternatively contended that the plaintiff should have engaged a safety harness or similar device before venturing onto the catwalk. The plaintiff claimed that such devices were not required on the catwalk, and he further claimed that his inspection required use of the catwalk.

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The state’s insurer agreed to pay $2.45 million.