$3,500,000 Premises Liability Settlement for Injured Pedestrian

Our client, a 31-year-old furniture maker, was walking to work in Brooklyn when he suddenly fell 13 feet into a sidewalk electrical vault after the vault door collapsed beneath him. The vault, which was filled with water, previously housed electrical transformers that had once powered neighboring buildings. After 20 minutes, a passerby finally heard our client's screams for help and called first responders who removed him from the vault. As a result of the fall, our client suffered injuries including hypothermia caused by the cold water and herniated discs that later required surgery. With legal representation from BOM Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue, our client received a $3,500,000 premises liability settlement.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Bronx County

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff
Our client was 31 years old at the time of the accident and worked as a furniture maker in Brooklyn.

Description of Case
The accident involved a fall into an electrical vault located on a sidewalk in Brooklyn that had once contained electrical transformers that supplied electricity to neighboring buildings. The electrical transformers had previously been removed from the vault and the vault was empty at the time of the accident. The vault is approximately 13 feet deep and is covered by a metal cover located on the sidewalk. The metal cover has a door so that workers can access the vault. The door has hinges on it so that door can be opened. The vault door has three hinges, with each hinge being secured to the door with metal bolts.

At the time of the accident, our client was on his way to work in Brooklyn. He parked his car and began walking to his job. When he stepped onto the sidewalk, the vault cover door collapsed causing our client to fall approximately 13 feet into the bottom of the vault.

An investigation revealed that the vault door collapsed due to lack of maintenance and repair of the vault door. When our client stepped on the vault cover door, the bolts broke and the hinges became detached, causing the vault door to fall into the vault. The bolts broke due to deterioration and rust.

Our client was trapped in the bottom of the vault, which was filled with water. After approximately twenty minutes, a passerby heard his screams for help and called 911. Emergency responders had to rescue our client from the vault.

Periodic inspections of the vault, vault covers and vault cover doors are required to take place every five years. These inspections would assist in identifying and repairing any defects in the vault. Unfortunately, the vault involved in the accident had not been inspected in the five years prior to the accident and the vault cover door had become in a state of disrepair, resulting in the happening of the accident. Had timely inspections had taken place, the accident could have been prevented.

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy offer case reviews in personal injury matters, including premises liability. Our firm is dedicated to obtaining the fairest possible compensation for victims of accidents caused by the negligence of others. To speak with one of our experienced lawyers, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form online.

Damages
Our client was taken by EMS to a local hospital. He suffered hypothermia due to being submersed in cold water. He had immediate complaints of pain to the neck, low back and left shoulder. He suffered abrasions to his upper body. A CT scan of the cervical spine performed at the hospital revealed a disc herniation at C5/6. Neurosurgery was consulted and he was told further care would be required. The next day, our client went to another hospital, near his home, due to neck pain radiating into his left arm, with numbness and tingling into his left hand. As a result, he was advised to follow up with a neurologist and orthopedist.

Our client began a course of physical therapy, however his condition continued to worsen, with weakness and sensation deficits into his left arm and hand. As a result, he consulted with a neurosurgeon and orthopedic spine surgeon, both of whom recommended spine surgery. Ultimately, our client underwent a two-level disc replacement surgery to his surgical spine, at C5-C7.

Following surgery, our client continued conservative care, including physical therapy. While the surgery improved his condition, he continued to experience neck pain, as well as weakness and sensation deficits in the left arm and hand. He also continued to suffer low back pain and left shoulder pain.

Settlement Amount
The matter settled for $3,500,000 prior to trial.

Handling Attorneys
The matter was handled by Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue

Lawyers with Top Results in Premises Liability Cases

The premises liability lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy are dedicated to obtaining justice for those who have suffered losses due to another party's negligence. Other successful results include:

  • $7,200,000 settlement for the family of a Brooklyn man who suffered fatal injuries after falling down an elevator shaft while trying to escape a malfunctioning elevator
  • $5,850,000 settlement for a woman who suffered multi-level disc herniations after a section of the ceiling in her apartment fell and hit her on the head
  • $5,500,000 settlement for a worker that was injured when the metal gate of a freight elevator struck his head, neck, and back

To speak with one of our experienced attorneys today, call 212-736-5300. We serve all of New York and New Jersey.