Everyone deserves to have a safe workplace – even those who are sentenced to community service after committing a crime. If harm comes to someone participating in a community service activity due to a failure to maintain safety standards, legal action may be taken. That’s exactly what one man did.
Safety Glasses Can Make A Huge Difference
The plaintiff in this case had been sentenced with working a certain number of hours on a work crew as part of his community service for drug charges. The crew had been instructed to clear and maintain state park trails, including removing debris. On the day that he was injured, the victim arrived and was told to simply grab a rake. He did notice that safety equipment, including protective eyewear, was available and asked if it was needed. He was told no.
After a few hours of work, the entire crew came across a large branch that was obstructing the trail. He plaintiff claims that the crew leader told him to attempt to remove the branch with his own hands, although he knew it was likely that a saw would be needed to remove it. While yanking on the branch, a section of it moved upward and struck the plaintiff directly in his right eye, puncturing it.
At the hospital, doctors removed the branch and diagnosed him with a ruptured globe, a corneal laceration, and retinal detachment. Despite the numerous surgeries that he underwent, his eye remains damaged and his vision is severely impaired. His eye also appears disfigured and misshapen.
He pursued legal action against the county, alleging that the crew supervisor had failed to keep him safe when he didn’t give all members of the group eye protection and the proper cutting equipment for the type of work they would be doing. He claimed the supervisor was negligent for instructing him to break the branch with his hands and for not showing him a safer way to do the task. He also indicated that he believed the country was negligent for not properly training the supervisor on the necessary safety standards.
A 50/50 Split
The case went to trial where the plaintiff showed an accident report in which the supervisor admitted that corrective action was needed in order to prevent future accidents and that the situation likely could have been prevented with eyewear.
In response, the defendant alleged that any person would have known that the manner in which he attempted to break the branch with his hands was dangerous and that the plaintiff was attempting to show off. They also claimed that because he had signed a waiver and so they could not be held liable for his injuries.
After hearing both sides, the jury determined that both parties were 50% responsible for the accident. In total, they awarded the plaintiff with $485,000 in damages, which was reduced by half based on the allocation of fault.
Can I File A Lawsuit Even If I Was At Fault?
Yes, it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit even if your own actions contributed to the accident which caused your injuries. New York is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that a plaintiff can always file a complaint and recover damages, however, those damages will be reduced by the percentage of the accident they are at fault for.
How Much Will A Lawsuit Cost Me?
No two accidents are the same and this means that no two lawsuits are the same. The cost of filing a lawsuit varies from case to case, however, a reasonable estimate can be given after our team has reviewed your case.
Our team understands that our clients are frequently already worried about paying the bills and so that is why we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that our fees, which we will inform you of in advance, come directly out of any damages that you are awarded. If we don’t win your case then we don’t get paid.