I recently finished an interesting case. My client was an employee of a contractor who was replacing the roof on a multi-family house. Unfortunately, while working, my client fell through the roof approximately twelve feet to the floor below and injured his foot.
Now, the Labor Law of the State of New York states that a construction worker must be provided with a safety harness to prevent falls. It is both the property owner’s responsibility, and the construction company’s responsibility, to insure that the worker is provided with a safety harness. We sued the property owner. We could not sue the construction company since that is covered by workers compensation.
My client claims he was not given a safety harness to wear. The construction company and building owner said they provided my client with a safety harness. So I had to find a way to prove my client’s case.
I did a deposition of the supervisor of the construction company. A deposition is where I am allowed to ask questions to witnesses. The supervisor swore he gave my client a safety harness. So, I asked the supervisor “how was the safety harness secured to the building”? The supervisor said, “by a rope which was tied to a roof beam”. Then, I asked the supervisor “how long was the rope”? To my surprise, the supervisor said the rope was twenty feet long. Well, since my client fell twelve feet to the floor below, the judge decided that the safety harness with a twenty feet rope was completely useless, and the judge ruled in my client’s favor!
The case was settled for hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a lawyer knows the right questions to ask, a hard case become a very simple case.