Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers & Illinois Injury Lawyers

Illinois Appellate Court Revives the Negligence Case of a Chicago Construction Worker Injured in a Rebar Accident

| May 29, 2024 | Construction Accidents |

Here in Chicago and across Illinois, construction workers know that theirs is inherently a dangerous job. Some risks are an unavoidable part of doing what they do. Too often, though, the hazards that injure or kill construction workers in Illinois are something different: they are the painfully avoidable results of defective equipment or decision-makers who cut corners or skimp on workers’ protections. When that happens to you, you have the right to seek compensation, either in the form of workers’ compensation benefits, a civil court settlement/damages award… or sometimes both. Putting a skilled Chicago construction accident attorney on your side can help you ensure you are getting everything you deserve.

When your case involves filing a civil lawsuit, there are several important decisions that must be made. One of the most critical is identifying the entities and people responsible for your accident. Doing this with utmost precision gives you the best chance of obtaining the full recovery you deserve.

Determining liability may be complicated and unclear for a layperson. For example, you, as an employee of a subcontractor, may not know if you should sue the site owner, the general contractor or your own employer… or some combination of the above. The answers to these essential questions, as one recent accident case reminds us, will vary depending on the particular facts of your situation.

In that case, J.F. was tasked with retrieving buried rebar and moving it at a Cook County construction site. During that process, an accident occurred, and J.F. was injured. He filed a lawsuit and named as the defendant the general contractor on the project. The injured worker’s case asserted that the general contractor was negligent in the exercise of its control over the project. Specifically, the general contractor negligently allowed “unsafe material storage and handling to occur,” according to J.F.’s complaint.

The importance of proof of ‘control’ in these cases

The word “control” is a very important one in cases like this. In Illinois, the law says that the “party in control is the proper party to be charged with the responsibility of preventing negligent performance.”

The entity you’re suing may ask the court to throw out your claim by granting it a summary judgment in its favor. This will involve arguing that it could not possibly have had the necessary control to create liability under the law of negligence. As the court in this case (and courts in many similar cases from the past) clearly pointed out, though, determining whether or not a contractor retained the degree of control over a subcontractor’s work necessary to create potential negligence liability is typically something for the “trier of fact” to decide. (That phrase “trier of fact” means the jury, except in cases of a “bench trial,” where the judge makes all of those determinations.)

In this case, the contract between the general contractor and the subcontractor said that the general contractor retained the power to order a stoppage of the subcontractor’s employees’ work. J.F. also had proof that, in any dispute about the proper safety protocols, the general contractor’s decision would “absolutely override” a decision made by the subcontractor’s supervisory employees. This was all enough to create an “issue of fact,” which meant that the general contractor was not entitled to summary judgment and J.F. was entitled to go forward with his case.

When it comes time to make all these vital decisions that will get you the compensation you need, rely on seasoned pros who’ve been there before and know what it takes for success. Rely on the knowledgeable Chicago construction accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.