Philadelphia Laborer Settles Old City Construction Accident Lawsuit For $10M
Ryan Zavodnick | December 12, 2019 | Construction Accident
In 2016, Michael Little, a 43-year-old carpentry foreman, slipped and fell on an icy hallway on a construction site in Old City. His injuries were so severe that he’s had surgery five times to fix his ankle and leg. Today, three years later, he still struggles with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and crippling anxiety. He walks with a cane and has been forced to retire from the job he loved.
Little filed a lawsuit against First State Mechanical of Boothwyn, a Delaware County contractor. After years of back-and-forth, Little agreed to settle his case in exchange for $10M. He’ll get about $8.M from the general contractor and the balance from an unnamed Chester County subcontractor.
Construction Accidents Are Fairly Common in Philadelphia
Workplace accidents – and construction accidents – happen quite frequently in and around Philadelphia. Sadly, many of those accidents are fatal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 45 workplace fatalities in the Philadelphia region in 2017. About one-third of those deadly accidents happened in the private construction industry. That makes Philadelphia the country’s 10st most dangerous city to work in.
Any Construction Accident Injuries Can Be Life Changing
Even when construction accidents aren’t fatal, the resulting injuries and harm can be devastating to a worker and their family. Little, for example, has had his world turned upside down because of his construction accident injuries. In an interview, he said that it used to take him about 15 minutes to get up and get out the door before his accident. Now, however, it takes two to three times longer.
Thanks to the severity of his injuries, he’s not able to continue his work as a carpenter. He had to leave his job and struggles with the ramifications of that on a daily basis. The trauma of his injury and how it’s affected him has prevented him from participating in his life and being emotionally-available to his family. He struggles with the fact that he hasn’t “been able to help his wife recover from a heart attack or to serve as a pallbearer” at his brother’s funeral in 2017.
Contractors, Others Can Be Liable for Construction Site Injuries in Pennsylvania
This all stems from the fact that he got hurt on a job site in Philadelphia. In addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits, Little decided to pursue additional compensation by filing a lawsuit. Just because he couldn’t sue his employer didn’t mean that he waived the right to hold negligent third parties accountable.
Under Pennsylvania state law, general contractors can be liable if a construction worker gets hurt on a construction site. This could be true if the contractor’s workers caused the accident. Alternatively, this could be the case if the contractor didn’t follow safety regulations or failed to give workers a safe space to work.
In his lawsuit, Little argued that the general contractor was liable because they allowed a hallway on the site to ice over. This, he alleged, amounted to negligence. The ice – which was likely difficult to see – created a hazard and unsafe working conditions. The contractor failed to keep him (and others) safe.
Damages Can Cover Medical Expenses, Lost Wages, and More
Little agreed to end his lawsuit in exchange for $10 Million. That might seem like a lot of money for an injury wasn’t fatal or obviously catastrophic. He can still walk. Why did he get $10 Million? It’s important to consider that the award isn’t just paid to compensate Little for his present-day damages. They’re also paid to compensate for future damages, as well. This can include money for:
- Continuing and future medical expenses
- Lost income and wages, and
- Reduced earning capacity.
The award is also paid to compensate Little for damages that don’t have a specific financial cost or monetary value. Things like pain and suffering, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life can be devastating. Part of his financial settlement is paid for these types of non-economic damages.
This is one reason why personal injury cases can be so challenging. It’s one reason why they’re so hotly contested. Valuing a case can be tricky. You have to account for a lot of different things and try to project how an injury might impact your life down the line. That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side.