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1.4M RECOVERY FOR CLOSED HEAD INJURY AFTER WORKER FELL OFF A LADDER WHILE PUTTING UP SHEETROCK IN AN OPEN STAIRWAY.

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George N Keches                Brian C Dever

A 50 year old carpenter was employed installing sheet rock at a construction site.  Plaintiff was working in a staircase with a co-worker who was passing the sheet rock down to the Plaintiff from the floor above.  The Plaintiff fell off the ladder and onto the mid-floor landing below sustaining head injuries and a fractured wrist.  The precise manner of the fall was unknown.  The co-worker heard the fall, responded and found the ladder upright in the designated location.  The Plaintiff was unconscious lying on the lower mid- floor landing, approximately three feet below the upper landing.

Plaintiff alleged negligence on the part of the General Contractor for failing to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis and by allowing the use of a ladder and not scaffolding while the Plaintiff was installing the sheet rock in the stairwell.  Further Plaintiff alleged that Defendant failed to provide fall protection, as Plaintiff was exposed to a fall of more than six feet based on the open stairwell behind the Plaintiff.

The defendant alleged that the Plaintiff was never exposed to a six foot fall and therefore alleged that no fall protection was required.  Further, Defendant alleged that it was not negligent in the happening of the accident because the method being used by the Plaintiff was standard practice in the industry.  Finally, Defendant was prepared to present evidence through a neuro-psychologist that the Plaintiff was exaggerating his symptoms..

Initially, the Plaintiff was sent to the hospital via ambulance and was treated for closed head injuries and a fractured wrist.  Plaintiff had to undergo speech and physical therapy as well as significant treatment for neurological and cognitive impairments.  Plaintiff claimed to be unable to return to his previous occupation as a carpenter.

The Worker’s compensation case settled for $500,000.  After a full day of mediation, the liability case settled for $900,000.00.  In addition, Plaintiff was able to negotiate a significant reduction in the worker’s compensation lien resulting in an increased recovery for Plaintiff, pursuant to Curry v. Great American Insurance Co., 80 Mass. App. Ct. 592 (2011).