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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Texas Man Awarded $44 Million After Major Leg Injury on Construction Site

Other than workers’ compensation, what other legal options are available for employees sustaining major injuries on the job?

In Texas, workplace accidents and injuries may be covered by a workers’ compensation policy, private liability policy, or a civil lawsuit for damages. In most cases, if an employee is covered by a workers’ compensation policy, he or she is limited to the damages provided in the policy terms – and is prohibited from later filing a personal lawsuit for compensation. 

However, there are instances when workers’ compensation is not available or an employee is not eligible for coverage – as is the case in a recent Brazoria County proceeding.
Texas Man Awarded $44 Million After Major Leg Injury on Construction Site

Following a nearly three-week trial, a jury awarded $44 million to a man who sustained such severe injuries on a Houston construction site that he was forced to undergo a leg amputation. Named as defendants were the Kansas-based outfit known as Berkel & Co., along with a Pennsylvania company known as Maxim Crane Works, Inc.

During the proceeding, testimony revealed the alleged gross misconduct of Berkel & Co., including a complete disregard for worker safety and regulations. According to the complaint, the plaintiff was working on the construction of a commercial building when one of the cranes suddenly collapsed, severely injuring his leg. As a result, the plaintiff’s entire left leg had to be removed, and he will be required to rely on the support of a prosthetic limb for the rest of his life. 

During the trial, several witnesses recounted Berkel’s practice of ignoring safety warnings, repeatedly violating safety practices, and “flouting” the warnings by other experienced workers that the crane was overloaded. During the discovery phase of the litigation, electronic data recorders conclusively revealed that, at the time of the incident, the crane was bearing more weight than it was designed to hold – a major factor for the jury’s consideration when determining liability.

The jury assigned 90 percent of the blame to Berkel & Co., and 10 percent of the blame to Maxim Crane Works. In addition, the jury added an extra $8.5 million to the plaintiff’s verdict as punitive damages against Berkel & Co.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, the knowledgeable attorneys at Sawicki Law Firm can help. Mike Sawicki has more than 20 years of experience and is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact us today at (888)468-8844 for a free consultation.

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