Labor Law §240(1) Allows Injured Construction Worker to Claim $62M Jury Award
In 2014, a Chinese immigrant received the largest personal injury award in the history of Queens, New York, when a jury returned a verdict for $62 million. The worker, who fell 20 feet from a roof where he had been metal siding, sustained numerous severe injuries including traumatic brain injury; multiple spinal fractures; multiple rib fractures; splenic laceration; renal hematoma; and lung contusions.
In most cases, a worker who is hurt on the job is limited to recovering workers’ compensation benefits. But Zeng Guang Lin was able to sue the contractor, Gamut Consulting Inc., and the owner of the building, Hutch Realty Partners LLC, under New York Labor Law §240(1). The statute, which dates back to 1923, allows employees to sue for personal injury when contractors and owners of buildings fail to provide the safety equipment necessary for workers who face gravity-related risks.
Under Labor Law §240(1), the plaintiff Lin had to prove that his employer and/or the owner of the building had violated the statute and that the violation, i.e. the failure to provide safety equipment, was the proximate cause of the fall. In a three-month trial, plaintiff’s attorneys were able to convince the jury on both points.
As a result, Lin was able to recover $20 million for past pain and suffering, $42 million for future pain and suffering, and $60,086.27 for past medical expenses. Workers’ compensation would only have paid for Lin’s medical expenses and provided permanent total disability payments at a fraction of his salary.
When a construction worker suffers a fall, it’s critical to have an experienced attorney investigate the contractor or property owner’s liability. This can make all the difference between an award that fully compensates and disability benefits that amount to a substantial loss in earnings.