Personal Chef Awarded $1.5M in Slip-and-Fall

Workplace hazards must be taken seriously, whether the job is being carried out at a construction site, a restaurant, or an office. chef

In a recent case in Connecticut, a personal chef employed by a wealthy homeowner tripped and fell on a plastic runner, placed there by a construction contractor initiating a host of renovations at the home.

In a situation like this, the worker would be considered the employee of the homeowner. Assuming the homeowner provided workers’ compensation (and in an arrangement like this, that wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed), the worker would be unable to pursue litigation against the employer. However, there would be no stopping a claim against a liable third party, in this case the construction company. According to the Greenwich Time, that’s exactly what the plaintiff did – and prevailed.

According to news reports of the case, the plaintiff was working as a personal chef at a private residence when he tripped over the plastic runner in April 2014. At the time of the fall, he was reportedly exiting a rear stairwell to the kitchen and then tripped on the runner, which he alleged had been improperly and dangerously installed.

He fell head and shoulders first, crashing into the wall at the bottom of the stairway. He suffered a concussion, as well as a torn rotator cuff and herniated discs in his back.

He had no choice but to undergo a series of surgeries, which ultimately resulted in a loss of work and permanent injuries.

In preparation for trial, the plaintiff presented an affidavit to the court from an expert witness who was prepared to testify that the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries was such that he was no longer able to carry boxes of food and kitchen supplies, as necessary to continue working in his previous capacity as a personal chef.

This accident, the plaintiff alleges, was the result of negligence and carelessness by the defendant contractor, which reportedly installed dangerous material in the stairwell treads that made them a hazard for anyone going up or down the stairs.

Despite the danger, the defendant didn’t put up any kind of warning sign to let people know of the risk. Neither did they cordon off the area so that it would be inaccessible to unsuspecting visitors or workers.

North Carolina law requires that all businesses that employ three or more employees, including those operating as corporations, sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and partnerships, obtain workers’ compensation benefits for their employees. There are some exemptions to this, which expressly include domestic servants directly employed by a household. That would include this case. What it would mean is that in the alternative, an employee could sue the homeowner or employer, although they would need to prove negligence.

There are some trade-offs with the benefit of workers’ compensation. Those covered by these mandatory benefits do not have to prove the company was negligent, but they also cannot collect damages for pain and suffering. Generally, workers’ compensation damages only cover medical bills related to the injury and a portion of lost wages.

Meanwhile, third-party liability lawsuits, such as the one detailed in this case, will allow a plaintiff to collect damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.

This case was resolved in a pre-trial settlement.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Fallen chef wins $1.5M settlement from Stamford contractor, Feb. 6, 2017, By Daniel Tepfer, Greenwhich Time

More Blog Entries:

Parker v. Four Seasons Hotels – Punitive Damages Permitted in Hotel Shower Injury Lawsuit, Jan. 25, 2017, Slip-and-Fall Premises Liability Lawyer Blog

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