A New York Court Decides that a Worker’s Lack of Recall about Elements of His Accident Didn’t Prevent Him from Going to Trial

An ancient Chinese proverb teaches that the “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In other words, any great destination requires that you first take on, and clear, the first hurdle and take each challenge one at a time to achieve your goal. Your New York construction injury case can be somewhat like that. Certainly, your ultimate goal is to obtain a fair amount of compensation in light of the amount of harm you’ve suffered. To get to that point, you must get past all the preliminary potential pitfalls, including a motion for summary judgment filed by the defense.

If the defense wins its motion for summary judgment, then your case never goes to trial and you recover nothing. Defeat that motion and you have a viable chance of obtaining a fair settlement or judgment. To help in clearing all the necessary hurdles, be sure you have an experienced New York City construction injury attorney on your side.

Sometimes, the defense may try to use your lack of knowledge of certain details related to your case to get summary judgment. Just because you don’t remember everything, however, doesn’t automatically mean you don’t have a case. The lawsuit filed by a construction worker named J.O. is a good example.

Reportedly, J.O. was doing demolition work in Manhattan when he was hurt. He was standing on an 8-foot A-frame ladder and using an electric saw when he fell. As a result of the fall, the worker suffered severe injuries, including a neck fracture.

The worker had a problem with his case, which can happen to many seriously injured construction workers: he didn’t recall all the details of his accident. He was cutting brackets that held an air duct to the ceiling. He remembered cutting the last bracket and feeling the duct fall, but lacked memory of many key details after that, including his actual fall from the ladder.

That can happen in a lot of construction accident scenarios. You may have been struck by an object that inflicted a brain injury with memory loss. Your accident may have caused you to fall and your fall may have included a brain injury with memory loss. Alternately, you may have suffered an accident so traumatic and horrifying that it triggered a psychologically-based memory loss.

Fortunately, when you’re hurt in this kind of accident, you can still get your day in court, even if you lack some key memories. The law says that, in order for the entities you sued for violating the Labor Law to obtain a summary judgment and get your case thrown out before trial, they must prove to the court that you were given proper protection or that you were the lone cause for the accident.

The defense must have “hard” proof of these things. In J.O.’s case, the defense had an expert who opined that the ladder J.O. used was adequate for the job, but this proof was inadequate because it was “conclusory and unsupported by evidence in the record.” In other words, it was lacking the hard proof and evidentiary value necessary to substantiate that the ladder constituted adequate protection.

Additionally, the defendants’ “sole cause” arguments fell short. Many times, defendants in New York construction accident cases will attempt to argue that the worker was the “sole proximate cause” for an accident when, in reality, their arguments and proof only show that the worker may have been a contributing factor to the accident. Since New York does not allow defendants to use a worker’s alleged contributory negligence to defeat a worker’s claim under these laws, J.O.’s alleged contributory negligence wasn’t enough to prevent him from getting to trial.

Giving yourself the best chance of success in your construction injury case involves many things. One of those is making sure you have the knowledgeable representation you need before, during and after your trial. The experienced New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates have been providing our clients with that kind of effective advocacy for many years.

Contact us at (718) 651-4363 to find out how we can help you.