A personal chef who sustained severe personal injuries following a trip-and-fall while at work in a private home was awarded $1.5 million in damages as part of a settlement agreement in exchange for voluntarily dismissing his claim in court.
According to the Greenwich Time, the settlement was reached between the chef and the remodeling company, which allegedly laid down a dangerous plastic runner on a set of stairs in the rear of the kitchen. The remodeling firm was contracting with the homeowner to carry out a series of residential renovations.
This settlement was important for the worker because in Connecticut, similar to in Florida, homeowner do not have to purchase workers’ compensation coverage for domestic workers they hire. The exemption laid out in F.S. 440.02(15)(c)1 specifies that domestic servants in private homes are exempt from the definition of “employment.” But homeowners who choose not to buy workers’ compensation insurance for housekeepers, personal chefs, nannies and others may find they are personally liable for injuries suffered by these workers on their properties. Granted, the worker would have to prove negligence on the part of the homeowner (something they don’t have to do in typical workers’ compensation claims), but if that worker prevails, he or she will be able to collect all of their lost wages (as opposed to just a portion), all medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium. These payouts would most likely be made through the homeowner’s insurance policy.
But whether the worker receives workers’ compensation coverage or not, they may still have the option of pursuing a third-party liability claim for personal injury, say against a contractor or some other third party. That was the case with this personal chef.
According to news reports of the case, the incident happened in the spring of 2014. Plaintiff was coming out of a rear stairwell of the kitchen when he tripped on a plastic runner that had been wrongly installed. As a result of the trip, he fell – head and shoulders first – into a wall located at the bottom of the stairs. The fall caused him to suffer a concussion, a torn rotator cuff and herniated discs. He had no choice but to undergo a series of surgeries for these conditions, which resulted in him being out of work for some time.
In fact, he has not been able to return to his previous job as a personal chef as a result of these injuries. According to one expert witness who was slated to testify at the upcoming trial, plaintiff is no longer able to carry boxes of food and other necessary supplies to and from the kitchen – an integral part of the job.
As plaintiff’s attorney pointed out, this was the result of negligence and carelessness by defendant, who used a material for a runner that was lacked sufficient treading and was dangerous the way it was installed. The runner created an unsafe condition that put anyone going up or down the stairs at risk for falling. Defendant failed to put up a sign warning of the possible danger and didn’t take any steps to cordon off the area so that unsuspecting visitors or workers would use special caution.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Fallen chef wins $1.5M settlement from Stamford contractor, Feb. 6, 2017, By Daniel Tepfer, Greenwich Time
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