A window washer employed by a Virginia Beach company fell from the side of a building in Newport News, VA, on the afternoon of September 9, 2016. The workplace accident, which left the man hospitalized with critical injuries, occurred in an office park off 26th Street and Washington Avenue.
According to WAVY TV-10, the man suffered a broken arm, broken foot, broken back bones and bruises on his lungs and heart. He has been placed in a full-body cast but is expected to recover enough to walk and work again.
Speaking with the television station, the injured window washer said he was wearing a safety harness and rappelling down the side of the building when he fell 10 stories onto the roof of another building. The harness failed for unknown reasons. Investigators from the Virginia Department of Labor stated they would have a report on the nearly fatal incident within six months.
Determining why the man fell matters greatly. If his employer issued him damaged or substandard safety equipment, the injured employee would have strong grounds for claiming workers' compensation benefits. A workers' comp claim could also succeed if the window washing company provided insufficient safety training or permitted its on-site site managers to flout their oversight responsibilities.
If the harness was manufactured with a poor design, or if the harness had a product defect, this could make the companies that made and sold the device liable for settling personal injury insurance claims. Civil law holds corporations to high standards for producing and marketing products without improper designs or with defective parts.
In either scenario legal representatives for the window washing company and the harness maker will probably try to blame the injured man for acting negligently. They can be expected to argue that the man ignored safety rules and hooked up his rig sloppily. My Virginia personal injury and worker's compensation attorney colleagues and I know from decades of experience that blaming the victim is a basic tactic for corporations that want to avoid paying compensation and damages to people they have harmed.
We wish the window washer injured in Newport News a full and rapid recovery. We also believe he could benefit from consulting with a plaintiff's lawyer who will work only to protect his rights and interests.