Here in Chicago and throughout Illinois, construction workers are faced with a variety of health and safety risks. Some are inevitable parts of the job. Others, though, occur because someone was negligent and that negligence led to a worker getting hurt. When that happens to you and those who caused your harm were someone other than your employer, you may be able to bring a lawsuit and recover substantial compensation in court. To find out more about the legal options you have, take prompt action by reaching out to a knowledgeable Chicago workplace accident attorney.
R.G. was one of those workers where negligence allegedly caused his construction injury. He was working at a construction site in Chicago relocating sprinkler heads and was entering a freight elevator to retrieve some equipment when another worker mistakenly closed the elevator door too soon.
The door struck R.G. in the head. The impact was so substantial that it knocked R.G.’s hardhat off his head and broke the suspension band inside his hardhat (which inflicted a scar on the man’s forehead.) That day was the last day that R.G. worked, and he was, at the time of his deposition, awaiting neck surgery.
R.G. sued. There are certain kinds of accidents one experiences at work for which the only means of recovering anything is filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. There are other types of workplace injuries, though, where the nature of the accident and the parties who were responsible for your harm mean that you can pursue a claim for damages in civil court. These generally involve instances where someone besides your employer was at least partially to blame for the accident and your injuries. In his case, R.G. sued the building’s manager along with the elevator maintenance company.
Whenever you sue a third-party entity (or entities) for negligence, your case needs several essential things. One of these vital things is what the law calls a “duty.” That is essential because if the defendants you sued in your negligence case owed no duty toward you, then they cannot be liable, and you cannot recover any damages from them.
There are certain facts that may serve to strengthen your case in this area. In R.G.’s case, the manager was an “owner/manager of a building with elevators,” which made it a “common carrier.” That was very important because common carriers have “a nondelegable duty to exercise the highest degree of care,” including care toward workers like R.G. That meant that R.G. definitely cleared the “duty” hurdle with regard to this defendant.
Overcoming the other side’s affirmative defenses
There are other potential pitfalls that you have to be prepared to avoid in a case like this. One of those can be affirmative defenses from the other side, including what the law calls “open and obvious.” That defense says that if a hazard is open and obvious, then the property owner/manager has no obligation to protect you from it. It is important to note that, in Illinois, a hazard’s condition and its potential to cause harm must both be open and obvious in order for this defense to work in the defendants’ favor. For example, in R.G.’s case, the condition of the freight elevator was open and obvious. However, because R.G. could not see the other worker push the “door close” button, the risk of harm was not open and obvious, which meant that this defense failed against R.G.’s claims.
The knowledgeable construction accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca have many years’ experience proudly representing construction workers and their families in claims to obtain the compensation they need. Whether that compensation comes in the form of workers’ compensation benefits or a civil court judgment or settlement, our team is here to help you use the legal system to obtain positive results. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.