Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) January 29, 2013 – A jury has awarded Ronald Bayer of Monee, Ill. $64 million in a personal injury lawsuit.
The suit was filed against Tinley Park-based general contractor Panduit Corp. Bayer was left mostly paralyzed from the chest down as a result of a fall on a job site.
According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, the verdict is the highest in Illinois history for such a case.
“This is a very large award, but it clearly reflects the catastrophic nature of Mr. Bayer’s injuries and great pain and suffering,” said Paul Greenberg, a Chicago personal injury lawyer, who is not involved in the case. “Construction is dangerous work, and employers need to be vigilant in maintaining proper safety precautions, particularly fall protection.”
While working on the construction of a warehouse addition in DeKalb in 2007, Bayer fell a distance of about 15 feet from a steel beam onto a concrete foundation below.
The impact broke Bayer’s neck, paralyzing him from the chest down except for limited movement in his arms. Subsequent surgery to repair his tendons has afforded him some ability to grasp objects with his hands.
The defendant’s attorney argued that Bayer was to blame for the accident, saying that Panduit Corp. required workers to attach themselves to support structures via safety harnesses, but Bayer failed to do so in this case.
Bayer’s attorney alleged that the contractor did not provide safety cables on the beam from which Bayer fell.
The Cook County jury’s verdict assigned 20 percent of the responsibility for the accident to Bayer and the remaining 80 percent to Panduit Corp. Panduit says they will appeal.
While Panduit appeals, a process that could take years, Bayer may not receive any of the award, but his approximately $5 million in medical expenses to date have been covered by workers’ compensation.
Bayer suffers constant pain in his neck, which requires continuous medication. Two caregivers provide around-the-clock medical care and help him reposition to minimize bedsores, which have already required several operations.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls are the leading cause of job-related deaths, and improper fall protection is the second most commonly cited safety violation.
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