Construction site accidents tend to be numerous, often serious and frequently complex due to the number of parties involved. There are also highly nuanced insurance and contractual issues to be examined.
We routinely represent owners, general contractors, sub-contractors and construction managers in construction accident cases. We are versed in the often complex interplay involving workers’ compensation claims, borrowed servant and statutory employer issues. We understand the need for a thorough review of contracts and insurance policies to address additional insured and risk sharing issues.
The lawyers at FHMS also appreciate the need for prompt and aggressive fact investigation. We maintain a Rapid Response line (1-877-999-7678), which is monitored by our lawyers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our ability to get to the scene quickly allows us to preserve evidence, avoid spoliation issues and begin to evaluate the exposure and damage potential quickly. We can anticipate the issues that will be raised by OSHA and begin to develop our defense theme.
We also think it important to discuss our matter handling and client relationship philosophy. We started Fowler, Hirtzel, McNulty & Spaulding because we felt the traditional legal model was broken. We wanted to approach our matters in a different way, and to relate to our clients’ business from their perspective. We don’t think that terms like business partnership and teamwork should be clichés. At FHMS, we focus on moving each matter to resolution at the earliest practical opportunity, whether by risk transfer, trial, dispositive motion, Alternative Dispute resolution or direct negotiation with the opposition. Our approach is dependent on the facts of each case and the goals of our client. We are committed to sharing data with our business partners. We collect data on file cycle time, fees, costs and indemnity. We sort the data by type of case and injury severity. We want to know what worked…..and what didn’t. Our goal is simple…… Better/Faster.
We have implemented a quality program in which one of our senior trial counsel reviews each case with the handling attorney 30 days after the file opens. A discussion is held about resolution strategies that make sense for that case. The strategy is then reviewed again at 90 days and subsequently as the file progress dictates. We recognize that the best pre-trial resolutions are driven by firms with the capacity to try the most difficult cases. Our lawyers have shown that ability in catastrophic cases across Pennsylvania.
- Joseph Fowler: Defense verdict in the case of Hetrick v. American Infrastructure following a two week trial in Chester County, Pennsylvania. in favor of a construction company and driver. Demand from plaintiff’s counsel during the pretrial phase of the case was $12,000,000. Plaintiff suffered massive head injuries when defendants truck struck a telephone line which crossed the street. Plaintiffs’ expert opined that defendant saw the line pre-impact and should have stopped after hearing the line come in contact with the truck. Jury returned a verdict in one hour. Defendant presented both construction and accident reconstruction experts.
- Gregory S. Hirtzel: Defended the project excavator which lent its front end loader to another subcontractor on a municipal project. The sub contractor’s operator while using that front end loader backed over Plaintiff’s foot and ankle resulting in catastrophic personal-injures. Among the rules and requirements of the project was a directive that all motorized heavy equipment have functioning back up alarms at all times. Multiple witnesses maintained the backup alarm for the client’s front end loader was not working at the time of the accident. The theories against the client were negligent maintenance and inspection of its equipment and negligent entrustment of the equipment to the co-defendant’s operator, who left the scene for several hours after the incident and was reported to have been known by all on the job site to have “issues”. The case settled after two depositions for $1,500,000, with the co-defendant subcontractor paying $1,400,000 and the equipment owner/client contributing $100,000 toward the settlement. Multiple tenders from other parties, including the project owner, engineer and general contractor were successfully rejected on the basis that the incident did not arise out of the client’s performance of its work under the subcontract since the act of lending the front end loader to another party was not within the client’s scope of work per the general and/or specific conditions of the contract.
- Christine G. Benedum: Represented the Defendant, a heavy equipment retailer, as the sole defense attorney in the major jury trial for a commercial dispute and obtained the result of non-suit in favor of the Defendant on Plaintiff’s claim and a directed verdict in favor of Defendant on Defendant’s counterclaim.