Skip to main content
A Brooklyn Worker Injured by Falling Plywood Wins an Important Judgment in His Construction Accident Case
March 20, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP
A Brooklyn Worker Injured by Falling Plywood Wins an Important Judgment in His Construction Accident Case

When you’re injured in a construction accident, and you seek to obtain a summary judgment on the issue of a defendant’s (or defendants’) liability, there are several things that you need to do. One of those likely things is providing your own statement on the record about exactly what happened and how you were injured. Additionally, if you have any co-workers who saw the accident and can back up your version of events, then it is important to identify them and to get their testimony on the record, too, so this proof can also bolster your case. Whether it is seeking evidence through discovery, getting statements on the record (through depositions, affidavits or otherwise) or compiling your evidence into a winning summary judgment motion, a skilled New York construction injury attorney can help you navigate the process and do the things necessary to achieve a positive result.

One Brooklyn construction worker’s injury case was an example in completing these processes properly. In the fall of 2012, a worker named R.P. and his co-workers were disassembling a grid of posts and girders that held plywood sheets in place. While doing his job, R.P. was struck in the head by a plywood sheet that fell down from the first floor ceiling. The sheet that crashed into R.P.’s head measured 4’ by 8’ and caused the worker to suffer significant injuries.

In R.P.’s case, he and his legal team did the things necessary to earn a summary judgment. R.P. gave a deposition describing the accident. He obtained an affidavit from a co-worker who saw the accident happen. The co-worker’s affidavit was particularly helpful for R.P., as that co-worker stated that he saw another worker remove a vertical post 20-30 minutes before the accident, which left a 4-by-8 piece of plywood unsecured in the ceiling. The co-worker also stated that there was no caution tape put up in the area where R.P. was walking when he was hit. (This evidence was a potential aid in defeating any possible defense argument that R.P. was somewhere he shouldn’t have been when the accident took place.)

All of those things were very important because they got R.P. over the first summary judgment hurdle, which is what the law calls establishing a “prima facie” case for entitlement to summary judgment. R.P.’s evidence demonstrated that he was engaged in a covered construction-related work activity, was injured by an “elevation-related” risk of harm (in the form of a falling piece of plywood), and that the defendants did not provide him with adequate protection against those elevation-related risks of injury.

Once you do all of those things, the burden then falls on the defense to demonstrate why the judge should not find them liable but instead allow them to proceed to trial. To do that, the defense must provide “hard” evidence. As the Appellate Division pointed out in ruling in R.P.’s favor, simply offering up speculation as a means to try to avoid summary judgment, as the defense did in this case, is not a sufficient basis for ruling against the injured worker.

Having won this critical phase, R.P. could next progress to showing exactly how much harm he suffered and how much compensation he deserved.

Injured while working at your construction job? Reach out to the knowledgeable Queens construction injury attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman. Our team has been here helping injured construction workers for four decades. To put our knowledge and skill to work for you, schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified attorneys. Contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.