Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Contractors, Would a Jury View You As Ignoring Safety?

In what is the second largest verdict of its kind nationally, an Illinois jury in the matter of Bayer v. Punduit Corp. awarded an ironworker $64 million after it found a general contractor to be 80% responsible for the spinal and brain injuries that the ironworker sustained after he fell from a steel beam.  The other 20% of the responsibility for the accident was attributed to the injured worker.

The attorneys for the injured worker argued that the general contractor maintained an unsafe jobsite in violation of OSHA regulations, ANSI safety standards, and internal safety rules.  During trial, the injured worker’s attorneys presented strong evidence that the general contractor ignored state and federal construction safety standards.  As a result, the jury agreed that the general contractor had failed to develop and implement the required jobsite safety plan and therefore was liable for the worker’s injuries.

The attorneys for the general contractor intend to appeal the jury verdict on the grounds that the worker was largely, if not completely, responsible for his injuries because he breached fall protection protocols by unhooking his lanyard and climbing out of a man lift basket onto the structural steel from which he fell.

Lesson for Contractors:  Regardless of whether the general contractor appeals, an important lesson for contractors to think about is how a jury may view your implementation and enforcement of safety standards.  In the Bayer case there was strong evidence that the general contractor ignored state and federal construction safety standards.  Could the same be said about your company?  Of course, the foremost reason for complying with safety standards is to protect your workers, but on a secondary level, contractors should be aware that if they don’t implement and enforce strong safety measures, such a failure is unlikely to sit well with jurors.

This article is authored by attorney Shannon O. Young and is intended for educational purposes and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law only, not to provide specific legal advice. Any particular questions should be directed to your legal counsel or, if you do not have one, please feel free to contact us.

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