A Hazard Close To Home
August 24, 2011
By William Schwitzer, Partner, Dinkes & Schwitzer
A man walked into our office after discovering a trench next to his backyard. He was particularly concerned as there was nothing to protect his children from accidentally falling in and hurting themselves.
He had inspected the trench dug by a cable company, but before he could even get close enough to peer over the edge, the ground beneath his feet collapsed. As he slid down a sharp object in the dirt punctured his foot.
The wound became infected. What made it worse was that he had a diabetic condition, which made it more difficult to fend off this infection. As a result, the infection became so bad that it led to the amputation of his big toe and a portion of his foot. His long-standing family physician contended that they would ultimately have to amputate below the knee.
But the cable company, claimed they hadn’t dug the trench — and refused to compensate him for suffering this injury.
He had no choice but to take the cable company to court, and I was glad to have had the chance to represent him and advise him about his rights. In court, the cable company again claimed that they were not responsible for the trench. In response, his landscaper testified that Cable-vision trucks were seen in the area around the time of the accident, and that he had observed workers with shovels digging in the yard. The landscaper also testified that the trench had been left unguarded overnight.
Faced with this contradiction, the cable company lost all credibility in the eyes of the jury.
Further, he explained to the jury the costs of his accident. He had been a sports-lover and had been a referee in karate tournaments. His children were involved in athletics and one had even been a Junior Olympics champion in karate. He said that he had been forced to relinquish these highly gratifying activities, and that he especially missed the quality time it had afforded him with his children.
The accident, he testified, had negatively impacted his life and had been a strain on his family, particularly his wife. She had to take on extra work, such as waitressing, to assist with the bills while her husband was out of work. Additionally she had to take on most of the domestic duties, which included handling all of the drives to pick up and drop off their children. The injury had caused new stresses to the family, as each member had to adapt to new roles to compensate for the injured and disabled husband and father.
The jury found the defendant 100 percent negligent and awarded him $10.8 million; $3 million for past pain and suffering, and $7 million for future pain and suffering. His wife was offered a substantial award in the amount of $800,000 for the loss of shared spousal duties.
Dinkes & Schwitzer was grateful to have had the chance to give the this family the support they deserved.
Dinkes & Schwitzer is dedicated to protecting the rights of the injured against insurance companies and big corporations. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and we may be able to help you too. Visit us at: www.dandsatlaw.com