Man Falls While Washing Windows – Sues Scaffolding Company

view of construction scaffolding spanning multiple floors, construction site

If you have ever been to a large city, one of the first things you will always notice is the height of those incredible skyscrapers. It has always been a great concern of mine to think about those who have to wash those windows, and on December 7, 2007, the reason for my concern became the reality of Alcides Moreno and his family.

With the New York City temperature settling around freezing that morning, it seemed like a normal winter day where Mr. Moreno and his brother Edgar would soon get to work. Unfortunately, disaster struck when the two men stepped out onto the platform and the cables “slipped from their attachment point”. This resulted in the platform the men were standing on falling from its anchored point and sending them down by the force of gravity. Edgar Moreno fell 472 feet down into an alley below and landed upon a wooden fence. I’m sure I don’t need to go into any details for you to understand that this was a horrific scene for the paramedics to find when they finally got to the brothers.

Alcides Moreno stated that his brother’s side of the platform slipped first, which is what sent him to the pavement below. By the time his side released as well, the platform was in freefall. It is estimated that Edgar reached speeds of around 120 miles per hour by the time he had reached the end of his, unfortunately fatal, fall. What was possibly even more incredible, however, was the fact that when first responders arrived, they found Alcides still breathing and conscious. He was crouching and still holding onto the controls to the scaffolding. He had already attempted to stand up but was unsuccessful. This is not surprising considering when he arrived at the hospital, he was put into a medically induced coma to allow the doctors to be dealing with his multiple injuries. These included brain injuries, a spinal column injury, and fractures to his ribs, right arm, and both legs. He also had injuries to his chest and abdomen. Yet somehow, Mr. Moreno had survived.

A fall from the top of a New York City skyscraper while preparing for a day of window washing with his brother, who perished, saw Mr. Moreno receive extensive injuries and having to receive twenty-four pints of blood while he recovered. Mr. Moreno had to be placed in a medically induced coma and even have a catheter inserted in his brain due to heavy swelling. Against all odds, however, he woke up on Christmas day after plummeting 472 feet down the side of a building with nothing but the window washing platform to break his fall.

One major obstacle for Mr. Moreno in regards to compensation was the fact that he and his brother were not wearing their safety harnesses or lifelines. These were found on the roof of the building that they were going to begin cleaning along with a bucket of soap and water next to the rest of the rigging for the platform. Eventually, lawyers and accident investigators concluded that because neither Alcides nor his brother Edgar had retrieved the rest of their window washing equipment, this was not a reason to believe that they were negligent and refusing to use them. It was also found that the scaffolding had not been properly maintained and that the new motorized cables had not been anchored properly, which contributed to the platform coming loose and seriously injuring Alcides and killing his brother.

These findings allowed Mr. Moreno to not only collect worker’s compensation but also to sue the scaffolding company. It is reported that Edgar’s family received $2.5 million in damages and Alcides received more. He and his now four children, along with his wife, moved to Arizona.

While this story is incredible, it also is not over. The families of both Alcides and Edgar, after going through such a traumatic experience, had to deal with a large amount of litigation and find a way to successfully navigate the New York worker’s compensation laws. This is something that shows a big difference in the rules and regulations from state to state when it comes to worker’s comp.

While unfortunately, Edgar Moreno was fatally harmed, his brother Alcides miraculously survived by holding onto the control panel and riding the platform down. After being released from the hospital and beginning rehabilitation, Alcides began the process of suing the scaffolding company who was found to be liable for both his injuries and the death of his brother.

Very often when someone is injured on the job, they are told that the only claim they can put forth is one of worker’s compensation. This is generally the rule. However, in some cases, you are able to sue a third party. This is the case if a product was defective or if the injury was brought about by a toxic substance. Generally, this is not something that is pursued however in a case such as Mr. Moreno’s it made sense. Worker’s compensation does not cover for things such as pain and suffering, which the Moreno family clearly experienced. Even today, Alcides states that he feels only around eighty percent of his old self and cannot work now.

In many states, suing a third-party company for damages like Mr. Moreno did bring about their own complications. In the event of a win for the case, most states will require the plaintiff to use the money they have won to reimburse the worker’s compensation payments made on their behalf. If the injured party has received more than was paid for them, they may keep the difference. This is understood to be compensated for pain and suffering along with any other disabilities that may continue due to the accident. New York and North Carolina both have this law.

Since Mr. Moreno’s accident, he has welcomed another child into the world and also now walks for charity. A couple of years ago, he finished a three-mile walk in less than an hour. It truly is remarkable that he was able to survive and those of us at Collier wish him all the best in his continued recovery.

What’s the Difference Between Worker’s Compensation and a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

scales of justice and gavel and block sit against white background

Based upon previous articles that have been posted recently, you may be left wondering what the difference is between a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury claim. While there are many differences between the two, it may blur together when you try to sort through each online in an attempt to do your own research. For this reason, we have done our best to sort through the trouble for you so you can know which claim you will be submitting.

If you have been hurt on the job, you will almost always be submitting a worker’s compensation claim. This ensures that you will have any treatment and rehabilitation monetarily covered for you through your employer. This is a claim that is not dependent upon fault and is only valid if you were hurt either at your place of work or while in the course of performing duties that were asked of you for your job. This ensures that you cannot sue your employer or co-workers unless under very strict exceptions. You will receive weekly compensation and possibly permanent impairment or disability benefits. Worker’s compensation, although different from state to state, can seem limited although it does cover all the necessary bases.

A personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. While it can provide much larger payouts than worker’s compensation claims, this is only true if they are won. You see, personal injury lawsuits are guilt-based. This is the exact opposite of worker’s compensation and so they are more difficult to receive a positive result from. There must be proof of gross negligence from a third party in order for a ruling to be passed in your favor. However, because personal injury lawsuits are not bound by the same laws as worker’s compensation, it is fully possible to receive more money, such as for things like pain and suffering.

In many states, North Carolina included, if a personal injury lawsuit against a third party is won, the money paid out for your worker’s compensation claim must be reimbursed if enough was collected. Both courses require an attorney, as the laws are notoriously difficult to navigate. If you have a worker’s comp claim, call Collier for a free consultation today!

Rush Jobs and Why They Are Bad Ideas – The Workers Blogger

Orange steam shovel digging a hole, work site theme

From childhood, we are taught that it is better to do something slowly but correctly than quickly and with shortcuts. The tale of the tortoise and the hare has been told and retold millions of times over history and has been changed to fit into different formats or characters to appeal to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, this lesson doesn’t always stick with us into adulthood. Sometimes, we try and cut corners in order to make deadlines, save money, or do any other number of things. However, sometimes these shortcuts can be deadly.

I am sure that I don’t have to do much to remind you of that horrible day in September 2001. Our country came to a stop that day as we all watched the horror unfold before us. However, we vowed to rebuild, and rebuilding is exactly what we did. The Freedom Tower stands upon the area of New York City that was demolished that horrible day. Sadly, some of these shortcuts seem to have been used during its building. According to an investigation that was brought forward, over thirty major injuries were sustained during the building of the Freedom Tower which was not reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These included injuries such as head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and more. This was taken from court documents, medical records, and city reports along with the OSHA reports.

Unfortunately, construction zones are some of the most dangerous areas when it comes to workers. This is even more accurate when the work is meant to be done quickly. Since the site broke ground in 2003, over eighty incidents of dangerous working conditions were reported and between 2010 and 2012, the injury rate at this location was higher than the New York and even national rate for injuries for trade workers. Many of these were due to falls, but others were being crushed by equipment or materials. Even though these workers were supposed to take a ten-hour safety course, it seems like many of these tips were avoided.

If you have been hurt on a job that was done quickly, then call Collier Law Firm for your free consultation. We want to make sure that you get everything you deserve and promise to put the time into each and every claim. After all, slow and steady wins the case.

Whistleblowers and Workers Compensation – The Workers’ Blogger

hand holding metal whistle with an engraving that reads The Acme Thunderer

Although it would be nice, not every employer has the best interests of their employees at heart. While none of us like to think about the possibility of intentional cruelty, it does sadly happen more often than we hear. This is especially true if someone has come to be known as a whistleblower. One thing that you need to know, however, is that as a whistleblower you do have rights. It is still extremely important to remember to keep yourself safe. We certainly do not want to hear about another case like the one that occurred with Kerr-McGee.

In 2011, a case came to light that had to deal with a multitude of workers’ compensation-related claims. The trouble began in 2009 when a worker for the North Carolina Railroad was injured on the job. While taking out a spike on the rail line, he was hurt however out of fear for his job he did not report the injury. A few months later, he was injured again and this time was given the advice from management to see a doctor. He did so, however, when he returned to work he was suspended and eventually fired under the claim that he falsely filed an injury report.

After sending in the notice to OSHA, an investigation was launched into the company and it was found that they had successfully intimidated their workers into not filing injury reports. This allowed the company to have a 22-year streak of safety awards. This is expressly illegal and we can only guess at how many people were not given the appropriate care due to this practice. Thankfully someone finally had the courage to expose this activity and hopefully prevent it from happening again.

If you are interested to know other whistleblower rights, you can find them on OSHA’s website. If you have been injured, please know that no matter what your employer may say you certainly should file a claim and see if you qualify for workers’ compensation. If you have been pressured to do otherwise, this is all the more reason to let us know. If this has happened to you, call Collier Law Firm today for a free consultation so we can help to put an end to this practice. We hate to see anyone hurt and will do all we can to get you and others the help they deserve.

North Carolina Workplace Deaths in 2014 – The Workers’ Blog

worn, moss-covered cross tombstone

The worst thing to happen to a worker in regards to on-the-job injuries is if they are tragically killed while at work. This is always a horrible blow to the company, the community, and of course the family. Unfortunately, these situations are more common than anyone wants. Granted, even just one person passing due to job-related injuries would be too many, but the numbers over past years have slowly been climbing which brings about many concerns regarding workplace safety. In fact, from 2013 to 2014, North Carolina saw a 90 percent increase in work-related fatalities.

Forty-four deaths in 2014 in the state of North Carolina were workplace-related deaths. The majority of these were based in construction and saw a seven-person increase to nineteen deaths from the year before. Most of these deaths were within the first ninety days of the employee being on the job. Nine deaths were accounted for in manufacturing, service industry workers saw six deaths, and agriculture, forestry, and fishing saw three. In fact, this last category is the only one listed that saw a decrease in fatalities.

The majority of deaths at work were caused by the working being hit by an object. The second highest cause of death at the workplace was falling, and there were also seven workers that were tragically crushed to death. The majority of workers killed were men, with only one woman being killed on the job out of the entire number. This information was released by the North Carolina Department of Labor.

In order for workers’ compensation to be provided in the event of an employee’s death, the death must be related to a compensable injury or disease. This injury or disease does not need to be the only cause of death, but it must at least accelerate or aggravate a previously existing condition which then becomes the cause of death. There is also a time frame that the claim must fall into if the death is not instantaneous. If a claim is not filed within two years of the death, it may be barred and should be submitted within thirty days.
If a loved one has been killed on the job, call Collier for your free consultation. We deeply regret your loss and will do everything we can to help you get the compensation your family deserves.

Respirators and Why You Need Them – The Workers’ Blog

the backs of two fireman wearing fire resistant gear and oxygen tanks walk side by side

While this title may sound like a sales pitch for something that we don’t provide, we want to make sure that you understand just how important a respirator is to everyday work. While obviously, not everyone will need a respirator, many people who are working outside or in construction should always have one on. While most of us think that respirators are just meant to keep the dirt out of our lungs, the truth is they can do so much more to help protect you from getting seriously sick.

A wonderful example is that of construction workers who are dealing with older buildings. Most of the structures built before a certain time used asbestos in the insulation if nothing else. If someone is working with demolition or a remodeling company, then they will most definitely need a respirator to keep not only the dust but the toxic chemicals out of their lungs as well.

Even working outside may be a reason for you to put one of those mechanisms on. There are certain diseases that are airborne that some workers may be at a higher risk of becoming exposed to. One such disease is Histoplasmosis. This is caused by a fungus that can be found in the droppings of birds and bats. Once a pile of feces is disturbed, it can release spores that then become airborne and may be inhaled by the workers. While this is a treatable disease, it can be deadly if not caught on time as it can spread through the body starting with the lungs.

This is a disorder that is not only a concern of those who work with these kinds of animals, but also with construction workers, demolition workers, heating and air conditioning installers, roofers, painters, bridge inspectors, or anyone else who may be exposed to even a moderate amount of animal droppings. This is why proper respirator use is so incredibly important.

If you have contracted a disease like Histoplasmosis, then call Collier today for your free consultation. We may not know a lot about animals or respirators, but we do know a lot about workers’ compensation and will be able to tell you whether or not you are eligible. Make sure that you file a claim and keep as much documentation as possible to ensure your chance to get everything you deserve.

Heavy Machine Injuries and Workers Compensation

construction machinery sits on top of dirt ground

Large machines are always a bit scary when you are working with them. Even if everyone is doing everything in the exact way they should be, something may still go wrong. From the viral video you may have seen of the crane spinning in the high winds due to the recent hurricanes to the incident last year in Fort Mill, you never know when disaster can strike while using large machines and construction equipment.

Last year, a construction worker was rushed to a hospital in Charlotte after he was seriously injured by an excavator while working on the Doby Bridge Road construction site. The thirty-four-year-old had been talking to his superiors about a maintenance issue that the machine had been having when the person controlling the excavator moved it which is when he was struck, knocked over, and ended up being pulled under the machine as it was moving. This investigation was turned over to OSHA as it was not believed to be criminal in any way, just a simple (albeit painful and potentially deadly) accident.

Accidents involving excavators are not abnormal. In fact, between the years of 1992 and 2000, there were nearly 350 deaths relating to excavators and backhoes. This generally involved the victim being struck by a moving part of the machine, or even being hit by the bucket which can unexpectedly disconnect from the excavator’s arm. As we said before, someone can be doing everything perfectly and still have an accident where someone is injured.

The saddest part of this fact is that the majority of these injuries could have been prevented. Most of these cases involve some issue with the setup of the site. These can include power wires being caught and causing electrocution, a steeper grade than the machine is supposed to be operated on, or simply having heavy machines too close to trenches which can cause a loss of control.

If you or a loved one has been hurt while on the job due to some sort of heavy machinery, do not hesitate in calling Collier Law Firm for a free consultation. We will fight for you to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve from your work-related incident. You have enough to worry about, let us take some of that stress away by working for you.

Workers’ Compensation Claims for Family Members

a male hand grasps a female hand that is holding a baby's hand

Very often, the injuries that workers sustain on the job do not affect just them. Their family must also learn to adapt to certain things that their loved ones can no longer do, even if it is just temporary. While this is normally an inconvenience to some, it is not life-changing. However, there are some ways in which you can bring your work home with you that can cause harm to your family members without you even knowing. Unfortunately, this is a bit more severe than bringing home your work laptop to fill out some extra paperwork that you are behind on.
It has been observed that some workers who deal closely with chemicals and other toxic materials have a possibility to bring these things home to their families. It is something that has been noticed quite a lot recently with the families of those who worked closely with Asbestos and similar materials which cause cancer. Before the regulations we have now, many workers would simply wear the same clothes they worked in home and then would unknowingly expose their families to the small fibers which could be breathed in.

There was a case a few years ago which saw three different North Carolina farmworkers give birth to children with an abnormality consistent with pesticide exposure. Farmworkers already are prone to more injuries than most due to the heat, constant movement, and exposure to chemicals. While they are generally healthier due to high activity and low obesity levels, the risk for injury is quite high. Although pesticides are safe in certain amounts, obviously during child development this can cause many problems. This has also been seen in women who worked in funeral homes to embalm the bodies, as the heavily regulated formaldehyde caused extensive reproductive issues due to the exposure and the height at which the bodies rested during the process.

While we can’t always claim workers’ compensation for the families of those affected, there is always a possibility to claim a third-party liability. Call Collier Law Firm today for a free consolation and see what we may be able to do for you and those you love. It is always heartbreaking to see your family suffer, regardless of the reason. We will do everything we can to make sure you get the compensation you and those you love deserve.

Preventable Worker Deaths – The Workers’ Comp Blog

broken window and fallen, shattered glass with view of power lines in a field

Some of the most tragic deaths that occur on the job are so horrible because they could have been easily prevented. Just last year, one of these occurred in Atlanta, Georgia at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. Although you may be expecting a story about someone killed while doing renovations on some of the rooms or a worker falling out of a window that had cracked, this is simultaneously a much tamer and yet even more horrifying story. One of the female hotel workers walked into the large freezer to retrieve something and became stuck, resulting in her freezing to death.

The 61-year-old woman was found after an estimated thirteen hours spent inside the large, walk-in freezer in the hotel. While walk-in freezer doors are mandated to have latches that can open from the outside, these can sometimes malfunction and I can tell you from personal experience that there are not many things as terrifying as knowing you are stuck in there without knowing if anyone can hear you trying to get back out. Safety inspectors are now calling for a panic button to be installed in these freezers which would alert someone at the hotel as well as emergency personnel to the event.

Unfortunately, this will not help those who have already passed such as this woman. It is unclear whether or not the hotel knew that she was missing, but it wasn’t until her husband called out of concern with her failure to return home that they looked at security footage and found her in the freezer which had been set for ten degrees below Fahrenheit. A spokeswoman for the hotel said that two days before the incident, the door had been tested around 30 times and opened each time. However, around a month after the tragedy, a worker and an OSHA representative tested the door and allowed themselves to be closed into the freezer when it malfunctioned. They had to pound on the door to be let out.

If a loved one has been killed on the job with something so preventable, do not hesitate to call Collier. We extend our deepest sympathies and truly wish to do all we can to get you the compensation you deserve for the life of your family member. We know that it isn’t the same as having them back, but you have been through enough and deserve to have someone else take care of these issues while you grieve.

Aerial Lifts and the Dangers They Pose – The Workers’ Blog

man stands in yellow and orange construction scissor lift

It is fairly common sense that if you are meant to operate large machinery, you should have proper training. It is also universally acknowledged that one of the most dangerous things about construction sites is heights. If you put these two things together, then you know that there is a great deal of concern about machinery up in the air. Things such as aerial lifts are some of the most dangerous machines that can be operated on a construction site and unfortunately, their use has been quite deadly over the past few years.

Aerial lifts are machines that allow workers to get up to different levels in order to effectively reach certain areas that are higher up. While these are safer than ladders or rope harnesses, they are still extremely dangerous objects to use. This is especially true if you do not have the proper training for them. This fact was proven once again earlier this year right in Rock Hill, North Carolina. A young man, unfortunately, lost his life after an incident occurred while he was operating a boom lift as he was working on repairs to the outside of the high school.

Although it has not been reported whether or not this man lost his life due to a fall, we do know from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that falls are the most common cause of death for workers on job sites. They also stress that aerial lifts are some of the most dangerous equipment and that training is essential for anyone operating these machines. Within three years, there were 1,380 people who were injured due to aerial lifts and over 350 of those were due to a fall. During those same three years, almost 90 workers were killed using aerial lifts and over half of those deaths were the result of a fall. Statistics show that around 26 workers die each year due to aerial lifts, with electricians at the highest risk. Laborers, painters, and carpenters were also at risk of injury or death due to this equipment.

If you or someone you know has been injured, or a loved one has passed due to an aerial lift, call Collier today for your free consultation. We want to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve for the injury that was sustained.