PARAMUS ACCIDENT LAWYER CASE STUDY: DANGER ON THE JOB.
A Paramus accident lawyer helps accident victims recover compensation. Some of these accidents occur while the victim is working.
Worker’s compensation may not cover a self-employed worker. However, he may have a claim against the owner of the property where he was working.
A newly decided court case illustrates this point. A man named Ken was self-employed. He did odd jobs for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. These jobs included repairing fixtures, changing lights, and installing tiles.
On one occasion, the hospital hired Ken to repair lights. That was the day that Ken suffered an injury.
Ken checked the wires of two lights attached to two different poles in the parking lot. He then turned to a third light attached to a wooden pole. He pushed the pole to make sure that the pole was sturdy. Ken found that it did not move. Then, with another worker, Ken took a ladder and extended it to about two feet below the light. He secured the ladder in place with straps around the ladder and the pole.
As Ken was on the ladder testing the light, the pole broke. He tried to climb down the ladder, but was unable to make it down fast enough. He jumped backward at about twenty feet so he would not hit barbed wire. Because of the fall, Ken injured his heel.
Ken maintained the pole was rotten inside. He claimed the rot caused the pole to break. He admitted that the rot was not visible before the pole broke. Ken hired an attorney to sue the hospital.
What the Law Says.
However, under New Jersey law, a property owner’s duty to provide a safe working place for an independent contractor like Ken doesn’t apply to known hazards related to the work the contractor performs. In other words, a contractor can’t sue for an obvious danger that he is supposed to repair. Therefore, the hospital claimed that it wasn’t responsible for Ken’s injury.
Ken maintained, however, that repairing the hazard here (a rotten pole) was not part of his job description. Thus, the hospital should be liable for his injuries.
Nonetheless, the judge ruled against Ken. Th judge apparently felt that climbing a pole was part of repairing the lights, not a separate hazard. Therefore, the hospital was not responsible. An appeals court agreed. A jury will not even hear the case. Ken won’t receive compensation.
I disagree with this ruling. A jury should be allowed to decide whether the hazards of the job included the pole hazard. Remember, Ken’s job was to repair the lights, not the pole.
However, if you are ever injured on the job, and hire an accident lawyer, you may prevail where Ken didn’t. Remember, the ruling in Ken’s case doesn’t prevent an injured employee of a business from recovering worker’s compensation benefits. Further, the facts in each case are key. In your case, the facts may be such that you can recover compensation, even though Ken couldn’t.
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