Undocumented Worker and Husband and Father of Two Suffers Traumatic Brain Injury at NY Construction Site
On September 8, 2021, Sean Coonerty, partner at Siegel & Coonerty, secured yet another big win for an undocumented (“illegal immigrant”) construction worker who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
On August 8, 2011, the client was a 48-year-old performing construction work on a building in the Bronx. He was standing on a sidewalk shed and accepting bundles of wood being lowered with a single rope from the roof, 50 feet above him. As a bundle of 2x4s was being lowered, one of the larger pieces of wood slipped out, and free-fell approximately 25 feet before striking the right side of the worker’s skull and face.
As a result, this husband and father of 2 children under the age of 18, suffered 9 separate skull/facial fractures, corrective plastic surgery, facial deformity, blindness in his right eye, hearing loss in his right ear, and a severe TBI established by intracerebral hemorrhage, Neuropsychological exams/treatment, an abnormal brain MRI with DTI, Neuroquant and Spectroscopy, and abnormal EEG studies.
Damages and Pain & Suffering
To help combat his pain, memory/cognition loss, depression and anxiety, the worker unfortunately turned to alcohol, and became extremely dependent, which can be an expected consequence with TBI survivors. His alcoholism wreaked havoc on the entire family, especially his wife and young son.
At the most severe times, his demonstrations of anger and suicidal ideation required the police and in-patient treatment. Although he was able to eventually quit alcohol, he was never able to return to any type of work for 10 years prior to his untimely death due to an unrelated heart condition.
The damages in the case were for his 10 years of past pain and suffering, economic loss, as well as loss of services and consortium for his wife.
Violation of NY State Labor Law
Sean Coonerty was with the client and his entire family every step of the way for a decade, including through over 15 depositions, the worst of the Covid pandemic, and even the funeral services. Ultimately, Sean won a summary judgment motion to the Court on the issue of liability due to the defendant’s violation of New York State Labor Law 240(1), a strict statute that protects construction workers who either fall, or have an object fall on them, while on the job.
Winning a judgment as a matter of law is a major accomplishment because it takes all issues of liability away from the jury, and 9% interest runs from the date of judgment until the ultimate damages award, should it go to trial. This puts pressure on the insurance companies to finally settle sooner rather than later.
At the time of settlement, the case was on the trial calendar to be tried on the issue of damages only. That is, the determination of how much compensation the estate and family should receive.
Widespread Negligence Among NY Contractors
Despite the numerous worker safety laws in New York, Sean has seen this type of accident all too often, allowing him to become an expert in the NY Labor Laws. Contractors constantly look to cut corners, and decrease the price for adequate man-power and for necessary safety equipment. And this is especially true when it comes to undocumented workers. They constantly do the most dangerous work, with the least amount of suitable safety equipment, and the lowest pay rate.
Our Firm’s Relentless Dedication
The case was recently settled at a pre-trial mediation for $3,500,000. This was a significant achievement given that it was compensation for just 10 past years, as opposed to damages for all the years between the accident and his life expectancy – such future damages were cut off by the worker’s unrelated death.
A successful result like this can only be achieved by tenacious and unrelenting hard work, combined with a deep understanding of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of TBI survivors – all attributes that abound at Siegel & Coonerty, where the firm’s dedication to the brave survivors of TBI is unmatched.
Contact Siegel & Coonerty Today: Se Habla Español
If you or a loved one were injured in a construction accident, and/or sustained a traumatic brain injury due to negligence, contact Siegel & Coonerty today. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what language you speak – Siegel & Coonerty will fight tirelessly to protect your rights, and treat you with the respect you deserve, and an amount of compensation which satisfies the very definition of justice. We never give up. Call (212) 532-0532