Hand Railing Failure

Injured Inspector Obtains Full Policy Limits

Railing fails causes a 3-story fall and months in the hospital.

Lee was a county inspector.  His job was to visit buildings in construction and to inspect the work completed to make sure that it met code requirements.  Lee was a well-respected inspector and had worked for the county for many years.

He was assigned to inspect a residential project in a West Seattle neighborhood.  He arrived on site and was directed to the top of the building to view and inspect the HVAC system.  As he was walking along the roof deck, there was a step that was not properly marked, and it caused Lee to trip and stumble towards the temporary railings that had been installed.

Lee hit the railing and it gave way.  The building code for temporary railings required that they withstand 240 lbs. and have several cross rails.  These temporary railings did not come close to meeting the code requirements. Hand Railing Failure

When the railing gave way, Lee fell one story onto a scaffold that was in place for the installation of siding.  He bounced off the scaffold and then fell two stories to the ground below.  The fall caused significant damage to Lee’s shoulder, hip, and pelvis.  He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center where he went several operations to repair his injuries.  Because of the nature of his injuries, Lee was confined to a hospital bed for several months.  When he had recovered enough to begin rehabilitation, he was discharged from Harborview Medical Center and transferred to a local rehabilitation center.

Lee was an experienced hiker having hiked many long-distance trails, including the Pacific Coast Trail.  Hiking was his passion.  He put his entire heart and soul into his rehabilitation and recovery.  He has continued his rehabilitation with the help of his family and hopes to return to the trails soon.

Coluccio Law was retained to investigate the incident and to find answers as to why the railing was not up to code.  The General Contractor for the project immediately started pointing fingers as subcontractors on the project.  While a common occurrence with construction site claims, under Washington State Law, a General Contractor has a non-delegable duty to provide all workers, including inspectors, with a safe workplace.  The non-delegable duty includes making sure that all building code requirements are met by not only the General Contractor’s workers but also each subcontractor performing work on site.  Our investigation determined that the framing contractor had failed to properly install the railings.  The installation that they performed did not even come close to what was required.  Because of the subcontractor’s failure, Coluccio Law was not only able to obtain the General Contractor’s insurance policy limits, but, also, the subcontractor’s insurance policy limits.

Coluccio law is one of the Pacific Northwest’s top personal injury and wrongful death law firms.  We have handled countless construction site accident claims on behalf of injured workers and their families.

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