Our client, a 38 year old cement mason from Northwest Indiana, was proud of the fact that he had a hand in building some of the most famous places in Chicago, like the new Soldier Field and the McCormick Place Expansion. So when he got hurt working on a job pouring the concrete to make enormous water tanks for the Metropolitan Water and Reclamation District of Chicago, he came to the personal injury attorneys at Lipkin & Higgins for help.
On this job, our client was using a “bull float” which is a tool used to smooth out freshly poured concrete. It is similar to a push broom that is about 6 feet wide with a 25-foot aluminum handle. As our client was standing on a rebar bed (steel bars that are criss-crossed and will hold the concrete in place after it is poured), pulling back the handle of the bull float, he was struck in the back by the hose that pumps out concrete. These hoses are really huge - about 10 feet long and 6 inches in diameter, they are attached to booms that are 160 feet long. Some of these concrete pumping hoses have been known to whip around so violently when they discharge the concrete that they can have enough force to knock down a brick wall.
When our client was struck, he was thrown forward and caught himself from falling by grabbing onto another piece of equipment nearby. In the process, he severely wrenched his right shoulder and twisted his right knee and ankle in the rebar. He eventually had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, knee and ankle and was never able to return work as a cement mason.
Lipkin & Higgins' attorneys filed suit against the concrete pumping company that was in charge of controlling the movement of the hose. The company claimed that the construction accident was not their fault. Instead, they blamed it on our client for moving into the area where the hose was pumping concrete. We took depositions of many of the workers on the jobsite, then hired a construction safety expert to prove that the movement of the concrete hose was 100% within the control of the operator working for the company we had sued. We also proved that our client’s company had responsibility for assigning a worker to hold the hose, either by hand or with a rope, and that that wasn’t being done at the time of the incident.
The company we sued ended up paying $700,000.00 to settle and our client’s employer agreed to reduce its Workers’ Compensation lien from $588,942.00 to $100,000.00. Needless to say, our client was very pleased with the result.