A 68-year-old electrician working on a new building in Jacksonville forever had his life altered after falling four stories while working onsite. Sadly, the electrician had intended to retire and travel the world with his wife only months later. The glass company’s workers failed to install a required safety system on a window frame, and failed to tell the electrician that only a non-anchored frame remained. When the electrician leaned against the frame, he fell four stories to the ground below, producing horrific and traumatic injuries, mountains of medical bills, and a lifetime of pain.
We’ve seen how big corporations try to skirt responsibility for their negligence, but our team of experienced trial attorneys have the knowledge, tools and resources to hold them accountable. Continue reading to learn what led up to this event, and how our legal team secured a high-value settlement for the electrician and his family.
Gross Negligence Leads to Construction Accident
It started as an ordinary day on the job for our client, a local electrician with many years of experience in and around construction sites. Mr. Smith* was working on the fourth floor of the active site when he noticed a piece of wiring around his shoe. He leaned against the window frame he believed to be secure to remove the wiring. The unanchored framing collapsed, and Mr. Smith fell headlong to the ground – around 56 feet below.
While investigating this event, our legal team uncovered some startling evidence. The evidence indicated the out-of-state window installers removed a required fall safety system from the window and put up an aluminum window frame in its place. This window frame was unsecured and in no way designed to prevent a fall. After removing the fall safety system and installing this window frame, the glass workers left the area to take a break without providing any warning to any other tradespeople on the job that day.
When Mr. Smith fell, the injuries were incredibly severe. He was lucky to have even survived. Sustaining a brain injury, spinal injuries, multiple knee fractures, multiple leg fractures, and multiple rib fractures, Mr. Smith required many rounds of surgeries, and likely will still need many more down the line. All total, his care to date has cost more than $1,000,000.
OSHA Mandates Fall Safety Systems
Falls are the single most common cause of serious work-related injuries and deaths each year. In one year alone, more than 300 construction workers died on the job due to fall-related injuries. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes strict mandates for preventing fall accidents on the job. OSHA requires employers to “provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.”
OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(1) further describes what is needed when there are “unprotected sides and edges,” like what Mr. Smith encountered with the window opening. “Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.”
The window company workers clearly did not abide by even the most basic safety requirements. Because of their lack of concern, Mr. Smith was left with life-shattering injuries, robbing him of his ability to live, work and play as he would have liked. Instead, he faces continued treatment and many painful days and nights for the rest of his life.
Coker Law Seeks Maximum Compensation for its Client
The window companies involved tried to deny all wrongdoing, and point the finger at nuances in the law regarding the electrician’s workers’ compensation insurance. The Coker Law construction accident team, led by trial attorney and Shareholder Fraz Ahmed, saw through the flimsy legal defense, because the window workers obviously exhibited gross negligence when they left the frame unsecured.
Even when our legal team filed suit on behalf of Mr. Smith, the window companies denied they had done anything wrong, and even tried to have the case dismissed through summary judgment. The window companies also blamed Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith’s employer, and the general contractor of the job site for Mr. Smith’s fall. The window companies further claimed Hurricane Irma damaged the building, leading to Mr. Smith’s fall. The window companies raised every defense imaginable. Mr. Ahmed spent months building a rock-solid case, deposing dozens of witnesses, and putting together a timeline of events that the responsible parties could not ignore. In the end, Mr. Ahmed and the Coker Law legal team secured $4.5 million for everything Mr. Smith endured.
Hurt On the Job? Talk to a Workplace Accident Attorney Now
If you were hurt on the job and you’re scared about getting treatment or receiving possible retaliation from your company, it’s time to talk to a workplace accident attorney at Coker Law to understand your options. We’ll look over the details of your case at no cost, and map out a way forward. Give us a call at (904) 356-6071, utilize our online contact form, or stop by our Jacksonville office.
Case Title: John Smith* and Debra Smith* v. Local Glass Company #1, and Out-of-State Glass Company #2
Attorneys/Staff involved in case: Trial Attorneys and Shareholders Fraz Ahmed, Matthew Posgay and Stefano Portigliatti; Trial Attorney Dana Jacobs, Paralegal Laura Page, Legal Assistant Kelly Anderson
Date of Settlement: August 17, 2021
Amount of Settlement: $4.5 million
*Names changed to protect privacy.