Three significant personal injury settlements were reported in this week’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly newspaper. Two of the cases were construction accident cases. In one, a worker suffered a crushed foot when a jersey barrier tipped over on him while he was removing temporary wooden railings and installing jersey barriers alongside the highway. While the employer could not be sued because of workers compensation laws, third party actions were brought against the construction project management consultants. The injuries were severe and the case settled for $1,800,000 (1.8 million dollars).
The second case involved a carpenter who fell 20 feet from a worksite to a home basement and suffered massive brain damage. The carpenter was an independent contractor, not an employee of the general contractor. Therefore, workers compensation laws were not relevant. Plaintiffs accepted $675,000 in settlement. While cases involving injuries – brain death – as massive as those in the case, can bring settlements in the multi-seven figures, this case was made very difficult by the absence of any witnesses. Plaintiff alleged that there was no fall protection at the site as required by OSHA regulations.
The third significant settlement reported was in a case of nursing home sexual assault. The 54 year old plaintiff lived in a nursing home due to multiple health problems including early dementia. The assailant was another resident of the nursing home who died before any depositions could be taken and before he was indicted, though police had charged him with the crime. Plaintiff alleged that the nursing home was guilty of negligent supervision and monitoring of its patients. Despite the severe illnesses of the plaintiff and the absence of a live perpetrator, the case settled for $240,000.
Plaintiffs’ verdicts in Massachusetts have been rebounding this year after several years of more defendant-oriented results. As mentioned in other blogs on this site, juries appreciate the value of any person’s quality of life, despite advanced age or poor health. And construction accidents bring some of the largest verdicts and settlements because they often involve loss of earnings and earning capacity that can be readily demonstrated.