A Philadelphia union glazer, who fell from a ladder at a contruction site injuring shoulder and hip in New Jersey, was awarded $6.5 Million by Philadelphia jury. The union worker, Frank Voce, who was 49 years of age, required surgery for his shoulder and developed hip problems preventing his future employment. The injured worker was awarded $5 million and his wife received $1.5 million for her consortium claim (loss of spousal relationship). The 12 member jury was unanimous on the verdict.
Plaintiffs argued, and the jury agreed, that the general contractor of the construction site violated the New Jersey Uniform Building Code, Construction Safety Code and OSHA regulations beccause they failed to maintain proper worksite safety. This included the general contractor’s failure to ensure that ladders were only placed on flat surfaces. The plaintiff was aware of the danger but felt compelled to work because of fear of losing his job. The plaintiff placed his 10-foot ladder on lumber laid over an excavation in an unleveled area with trash and debris on the ground. Because of a recent rain, the ground was muddy and some leveling plywood slipped causing the ladder to fall while the plaintiff was working on it.
General contractors have an obligation to ensure a safe worksite for all subcontractors and individuals on the site. Additionally, general contractors must follow state and federal regulations overseeing their worksites. Although employees are generally prohibited from directly suing their employers because of workmen compensation laws, sub-contractors and others present on a worksite may still have the ability to bring claims for their injuries depending on who is responsible for the worksite. If you suffer a serious injury at work, you should immediately consult an experienced trial attorney to protect your rights.