Construction Accident

Monday, July 13, 2015

Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment of Contractor Injury Case

How does Illinois law treat a scenario involving injury to laborers working for an independent contractor? 

Construction accidents in Illinois often involve a number of parties, complex contractual applications, and a confounding determination of which party is actually at fault. As a foundational issue, there is a stark differentiation between an “employee” and an “independent contract,” the latter being truly that - independent. In other words, it is much easier for a worker classified as an employee to recover for injuries sustained on the work site than it is for an independent contractor (and its laborers) to receive compensation from the owner of the site. In sum, it depends on which entity actually exerted control and management of the project – as liability will generally fall on that party’s shoulders. 

Appellate court affirms summary judgment against demolition defendant

In a recent case out of Cook County, Illinois, two plaintiffs commenced a personal injury lawsuit for damages after the scaffolding they were working on collapsed, causing both men to fall over 20 feet to the ground below. At the time of the incident, the workers were employees of a scaffold erection company hired by a larger demolition company, which was in turn hired by a Chicago school district to demolish an existing gymnasium.  When it came time to implicate a defendant in the resulting lawsuit, the plaintiffs named both the scaffolding company and the demolition outfit as responsible for the scaffolding collapse – citing improper and negligent supervision and inspection of the scaffolding equipment. 

Prior to discovery, the demolition company asserted that it did not exercise any control over the scaffolding aspect of the demolition project whatsoever, and should not be held responsible for the negligence of its subcontractors. In agreeance, the court sided with the demolition company, holding that the demolition company needed to exert control over the situation in order to face liability, and the facts reveal that it had absolutely nothing to do with the scaffolding erection. In other words, recovering for an injury following a construction accident will generally only be possible against the employer directly responsible for the oversight and management of the project or task at hand. 

If you sustained a personal injury and would like to discuss your options with a reputable attorney in Chicago, please contact us today: 847-416-1989. 

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