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$3,625,000 Result for Queens Worker Who Suffered Ankle Injuries in Fall from Ladder

When our client, a then-22-year-old construction worker, fell five to six feet from an extension ladder, his impact with the floor caused a compound fracture to his right ankle. The portion of the extension ladder on which he was working didn’t have rubber footing. Our client underwent two surgeries as a result of the fall: first, an emergency procedure where doctors affixed an external fixator to his right leg and ankle; less than one month later, an ankle surgery that required the installation of hardware, an open reduction with internal fixation, which remains in his right ankle to this day. After a course of physical therapy, he was able to return to work full-time. Represented by Partner Stephen J. Murphy and Associate Aaron R. Fishkin, our client received a $3,625,000 settlement.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Queens County

Description of Case
The case arose out of an accident which occurred at a construction site wherein the then 22-year-old Plaintiff was working for a sub-contractor installing windows. His accident occurred while he was ascending a portion of an extension ladder to reach his elevated workspace. Unfortunately, the ladder that plaintiff was ascending did not have proper rubber footing to stabilize the ladder, violating New York State Industrial Codes such as §23-1.21(b)(4)(ii). As a result of the ladder not having proper footing, the ladder that plaintiff was climbing slid out from under Plaintiff, causing Plaintiff and the ladder to crash approximately 5-6 feet from the ladder to the ground.

Based on these facts, Plaintiff commenced a lawsuit against the tenant and building owner, arguing that this gravity-related accident was the result of the Defendants’ violation of New York’s Industrial Codes and Labor Law §240, a statute designed to protect workers from gravity-related risks. The matter was settled after all parties’ depositions concluded.

Plaintiff suffered a compound right ankle fracture, meaning part of his ankle bone was sticking out of his right ankle. The right ankle was the only body part injured as a result of this fall. From the job site, Plaintiff was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital. There, he underwent emergency surgery to his right ankle where doctors installed an external fixator to stabilize his deformed ankle.

Less than month after Plaintiff’s first surgery, Plaintiff underwent a second surgery to remove the external fixator and perform an open reduction internal fixation with hardware to the right ankle. The hardware from this second surgical procedure remains in his right ankle to this day.

If the defense did not settle this case, Plaintiff’s operating orthopedic surgeon would have testified at trial. The operating surgeon would have recounted to the jury the risks associated with this extensive procedure: ankle arthritis, chronic ankle pain, failure of hardware, damaging surrounding nerves and blood vessels, nonunion (when a broken bone fails to heal), and malunion (the fracture(s) heal in an abnormal position, which can lead to impaired function of the bone or limb), and walked the jury through these two extensive procedures.

After two grueling surgeries, Plaintiff, to his credit, returned to work. While the defense argued that Plaintiff’s ability to return to work showed that his injuries were not permanent or serious, Block O’Toole & Murphy argued that a jury would look at our client’s actions after this accident and find his grit, determination, and desire to return to work admirable. We further argued that a Queens jury was going to appreciate our client’s position: he returned to work because he needed to provide for his family.

Although Plaintiff returned to work, we hired an expert Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation expert to evaluate whether Plaintiff’s work life would be shortened as a result of his right ankle injury. After the Physical medicine and Rehabilitation expert opined that Plaintiff’s work-life would be shortened, we hired to economist to project that significant loss.

Our economists provided a report regarding the expected costs of lifelong medical treatment related to the right ankle injuries sustained in the accident.  This report accounted for expected future growth rates of each modality of future treatment. That amount totaled $385,698. The economists also analyzed our client’s prior earnings to determine what he would have earned if his work life was not shortened. The economist opined that his social security retirement income loss totaled $72,158 and his income loss totaled $3,177,695. 

Settlement Amount
The parties resolved this case after depositions of all parties concluded for $3,625,000.

Handling Attorneys
The case was handled by Partner Stephen J. Murphy and Associate Aaron R. Fishkin.

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