In 2010, a Texas maintenance worker was working on the roof of a building when he fell headfirst through an acrylic plastic skylight. He landed on a concrete floor 35 feet below.
Incredibly, the man survived the accident, though he suffered severe injuries. His right leg, which broke in the fall, eventually had to be amputated. He also broke his back, his ribs and his left arm, and suffered a punctured lung.
The accident occurred as the man was replacing the venting motor on the roof of a building. During the work, he lost his balance and put his hand down on the skylight to steady himself. The skylight broke, sending him toppling down to the concrete below.
Though the man was eventually able to return to work with the aid of a prosthetic leg, he likely incurred significant past and future medical expenses as a result of the accident. Ultimately, he chose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the skylight, noting that the product was dangerously weak and thus a hazard to those who worked on the roof.
The manufacturer attempted to place responsibility for the accident on the building owner, noting that ”responsibility for skylight safety does not rest with [our company] alone. Owners and installers must provide the ultimate protections to assure skylight safety for those who work near and around installed skylights, and that apparently failed to occur in this case.”
The jury, however, sided with the injured worker, awarding $33.8 million in compensation for the man’s financial losses, disability and emotional distress.
Verdicts of this size are often the result not only of the victim’s accumulated expenses, but also out of a desire to reform or deter the defendant from repeating the behavior that led the injury in the first place. These are known as punitive damages, and they are an important deterrent for large companies that have deep pockets. Though a wealthy company could afford to pay off smaller injury-based claims, the addition of punitive damages ensures that the company has the financial incentive to reform.
At Greening Law, P.C., our firm is dedicated to helping our clients seek the maximum possible compensation for the losses they have suffered. If you have been injured or lost a loved one, Robert Greening will help you prepare an effective personal injury case. To schedule a no-obligation consultation with attorney Greening, contact our firm online or call 972-934-8900.