Premises Liability & Workers’ Compensation
Christopher DiGirolamo, managing Partner at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C., recently helped settle a premises liability and workers’ compensation case. The client, a 63-year-old man, was in the course of his employment as a driver for Benjamin Moore Paint. He was working on completing his pre-drive inspection of his 18-wheel tractor-trailer.
That day was like any other typical winter weather – It had snowed a whopping 8 inches about 3-4 days prior and the temperature had fluctuated above and below freezing. This weather created a melt, thaw, and then refreeze in the parking lot where the tractor-trailers are kept. On top of all this, it had rained and sleeted the night before the incident in question took place.
The client had connected his tractor to the trailer and was in the process of walking back to make sure that it was secure, when all of a sudden his feet slipped out from under him! This was unexpected to him, as he had just tediously walked over an area of hard, packed snow in the parking lot.
He reached out in a split second to grab the handle on the trailer but still fell forward, landing hard on his knees, chest, shoulder and face. He was quite dazed from the incident and remembers trying to get up but feeling ice under a thin layer of snow.
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The client was then rushed to the Emergency Room, where he was promptly treated for facial lacerations, a broken nose, ruptured bicep, torn rotator cuff, and sprains to both of his knees. He ended up under the care of workers’ compensation doctors and ultimately was suggested for surgery to repair the ruptured bicep tendon and arthroscopic repair of the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. He received authorized medical treatment for approximately 18 months and was deemed medically disabled from returning to his job as a tractor-trailer operator, putting a further damper on his day-to-day lifestyle.
As far as workers’ compensation was concerned, he received total disability from it and was also deemed totally disabled sometime within the process by Social Security. Due to the extent of his injuries, he was awarded a work-related disability pension, which allowed him to receive full retirement benefits without any penalties. What complicated his case was the fact that he had filed 12 prior workers’ compensation claims, which included injuries to both shoulders and both knees.
The Defense in the case ended up arguing that they had plowed the area and that fresh precipitation had fallen only a few hours prior to the accident. They said that this kept them from having the opportunity to clear the area completely. Finally, they argued that he was aware that there was snow and ice in the area and that he should have used caution. They believed that he was fully responsible for not being more careful.
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That morning, they had proof that over 25 drivers had been exposed to the same conditions and none had fallen due to them. It was argued that, even though he was deemed disabled from returning to his job as a tractor-trailer operator, he was medically stable otherwise, had a great recovery, and was not limited in any of his activities of daily living because he was still able to complete yard work, take care of his day-to-day lifestyle, and do light household maintenance.
Lastly, they argued that because he was receiving full retirement benefits, Social Security Disability and worker’s compensation benefits, he was actually earning more money per month than when he was working. This meant that there was no present or future lost wages.
Private mediation failed and the case was scheduled for trial on June 22, 2015. Christopher DiGirolamo took on the case for the client after receiving full details and working with all parties involved in the matter. In the end, this matter was settled with all three Defendants, the property owner, snow removal company, and the company the Plaintiff was delivering the paint for.
They all agreed to percentages of responsibility for a global settlement of $817,500! It was an overall successful agreement for the client, further proving that DiGirolamo will work tediously with clients to get them the compensation they deserve.