Shortly before the beginning of the 2009–2010 school year, a painter was working in the third-floor gymnasium of Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, New York. The painter (our client) was painting over the recently renovated ceiling in the gymnasium. In order to reach the ceiling to do his job, the painter was working on a scaffold that had been provided for him.

As the painter removed protective paper that was covering a light fixture on the ceiling, he began to feel the scaffolding below him shift and tip. As the scaffolding fell, it got caught on a basketball hoop. The painter was left dangling from a pipe without any scaffolding under him. When his grip on the pipe gave way, the painter fell several feet to the gymnasium’s floor. He landed on his heels and fell backward on to the floor.

Serious, Life-Long Injuries Resulted From the Scaffolding Fall

Our client suffered serious, and in some cases permanent, injuries to different parts of his body, including his:

  • Cervical spine
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Foot
  • Middle back
  • Lower back

As a result of his August 15, 2009 workplace injury, our client had to have the following surgeries:

  • June 10, 2010: Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery. His doctor performed right shoulder arthroscopy surgery with debridement of the anterior inferior labrum, release of the coracoacromial ligament, subacromial decompression with acromioplasty, followed by distal clavicle resection.
  • April 2, 2012: Back Surgery. In this lower back surgery, our client had a left L4-5 posterolateral endoscopic lumbar discectomy with radiofrequency thermal discoplasty.
  • March 12, 2013: Back Surgery. This time our client had bilateral lumbar facet block and hardware blocks on L3-S1.
  • December 4, 2013: Back Surgery. Our client underwent posterior thoracic facet joint block with fluoroscopic guidance of the T7-10 levels bilaterally.
  • July 23, 2014: Back Surgery. This exploratory surgery was for the exploration of the L5-S1 spinal fusion.
  • April 28, 2016: Back Surgery. This time, our client underwent a posterior spinal arthrodesis at T7-8, T8-9, and T9-10 with right iliac graft harvest. This was an open back fusion surgery where large amounts of damaged spinal anatomy were removed and bone graft material was implanted.

The August 2009 scaffolding fall was not the first time that our client suffered a back injury. In March 2009, he had back surgery. After his recovery and physical therapy, he was symptom-free and able to return to work without restrictions on June 1, 2009. Our client continued to work until August 15, 2009—the date he fell from the scaffolding and suffered various injuries to his body.

When negotiating his recovery for his August 2009 fall, we successfully argued that his injuries were caused by the August 2009 fall from the scaffolding and not from previous accidents.

Despite extensive medical treatment, our client was unable to fully heal from the injuries he sustained in this fall.

What Does the Future Hold for the Injured Painter?

At the time of the accident, the painter had an estimated 27 years left before retirement. Unfortunately, his injuries took those work years away from him. This lost income, plus the doctor’s estimated $100,000–$200,000 in future medical expenses put our client’s future at risk.

However, at mediation we were able to settle his case for $1.9 million and reduce the workers’ compensation lien on his settlement from $385,895.50 to $150,000.

Our client immigrated from Columbia and became a United States citizen in 1998. He worked hard to make a good life here. Today, he resides in Florida with the financial compensation that he deserves for his injuries.

Every construction worker that we represent is unique and every recovery is personal. If you have been hurt in a New York City construction accident, then we encourage you to get the information that you need about your own potential recovery. Contact our experienced construction accident lawyers today via this website or by phone. We would be happy to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with you and to help you whether you were hurt in a scaffolding accident or any other type of construction accident.


Timothy F. Schweitzer
Connect with me
Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients' cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case.