A 27 year old man from Delaware county, who was injured from an electric shock he sufferred after a cherrry picker struck power lines, was awarded $1.25 Million by a Jury. Although plaintiffs are generally prohibited from suing their employer, the injured man was argued not to be a regular employee, but instead was argued to be a temporary worker, who could recover for his injuries. The plaintiff’s attorney insisted that the injured man was only a temporary worker (Independant Contractor) because he worked for the company just 5 days over a three period of time. Therefore, he should not be covered by the general prohibition concerning suing his employer. Because there was no clear law on this issue in Pennsylvania, all parties agreed to a binding high-low agreement, which will result in the plaintiff actually being compensated $900,000.
The cherrry picker was actually being operated by the company’s owner at the time of the accident. Apparently, the owner/operator was maneuvering the cherry picker when his head came into contact with the live electrical wires. The plaintiff in the case was also exposed to the live current causing him to pass out. When the plaintiff awoke, he proceeded to pull the owner/operator off the live wires. Unfortunately, the owner/operator died from his injures. The co-worker (plaintiff) then sued the company for his own injuries, which included speech problems, inability to work in construction and post-traumatic stress disorder. An investigation of the incident by OSHA resulted in the company being cited for two violations, which were not contested.
This case involved complex and novel legal issues in Pennsylvania concerning when a worker is covered under a worker’s compensation insurance policy and when a worker is actually functioning as an independant contractor. Such issues are central to determining a plaintiff’s rights to recover for their injuries. These issues were never finally resolved in this case, but because the case did go through trial and verdict, an important precedent was set. This case demonstrates how only an experienced and qualified trial attorney, who is willing to fight for your rights, can ensure that your potential case is properly evaluated and litigated to a successful conclusion.