Result: $2.1M Settlement Reached For Plumber Who Fell on Construction Site
The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. secured a $2.1 Million settlement on behalf of a plumber’s assistant who blamed his construction-site fall on debris and lack of maintenance.
David H. Perecman and Adam M. Hurwitz of The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. represented a client who was injured while working as a plumber’s assistant at a construction site in Queens.
As claimed in the lawsuit, filed in Queens County, the firm’s client had been conducting an inspection of a building’s basement in May 2009 when he tripped and one of his legs fell into an uncovered hole. As a result, he suffered an injury of the ankle, arthritis of the ankle, and an injury to his back.
Injuries & Treatment
The firm’s client suffered a pilon fracture of his right ankle – a type of comminuted fracture of the lowest portion of the tibia. He was transported to a local hospital where the fracture was treated surgically via open reduction and internal fixation. In October of the same year, he underwent another surgical procedure to remove the fixation hardware.
The victim further claimed that following his injury, his ankle developed residual arthritis which caused a limp and led to an injury of his back. It was alleged the resulting pain from these injuries prevented his ability to perform anything other than sporadic labor. It was further claimed he would require surgery (fusion) of his right ankle, as well as physical therapy, epidural injections, and steroid-based painkillers to treat his back pain.
In pursuit of past and future medical bills, lost income and future earnings, and past and future pain and suffering, a lawsuit was filed against several defendants – the owner of the construction site, and the general contractor for the construction project.
The defendants impleaded an additional defendant, a third-party contractor which had been working on the site, alleging the subcontractor’s employees negligently created a hazardous condition which caused the victim’s accident.
The victim claimed his injuries were caused by tripping over a cinder block while he had been walking backward, and that the block had been discarded by one of the subcontractor’s employees. He further claimed the basement had insufficient lighting.
Attorneys Perecman and Hurwitz argued that the defendants violated New York Labor Law – specifically:
- Title 23, part 1.7(e)(2) of New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations, which requires worksite floors to be free come any debris, materials or tools, and sharp objects;
- Labor Law § 241(6), which requires proper safeguards on worksites; and
- Labor Law § 241(6), which defines general workplace safety guidelines.
In defense, defendants argued that the cinder block was an obvious condition the victim should have been able to easily avoid, and that the accident resulted from the victim’s failure to maintain a proper lookout. Defendants also contended the victim could not prove the fall was caused by a cinder block.
The subcontractor additionally contended it had completed its work on the construction site months before the accident, and that the general contractor was responsible for maintenance of the site thereafter.
Defendants raised several arguments in their attempts to avoid liability, and argued the victim exaggerated the severity of his injuries and disability, did not develop arthritis, and achieved an excellent recovery that would pose no barriers to his return to normal work.
Despite the arguments, the case built by Attorneys Perecman and Hurwitz and the supporting evidence they gathered proved compelling. Ultimately, a pretrial settlement was negotiated with the defendants’ insurers agreeing to pay:
- $150,000 (Subcontractor)
- $1.95 Million (Premises Owner / General Contractor)
The total settlement amounted to $2.1 million.