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DEFENDANT’S Employer’s Liability – Workers’ compensation – Fall from ladder – Bilateral upper extremity fractures – Hip and leg fractures – Loss of right-eye vision – Bilateral hearing loss.

Hillsborough County, FL

The claimant brought this workers’ compensation action against the defendant – an architectural firm – after he fell from a ladder at work and sustained serious injuries. The defendant maintained that it was not the claimant’s employer, and therefore, had no duty to provide workers’ compensation coverage for his injuries.

The claimant was a 51-year-old painter who fell some 20 feet from a ladder and suffered significant injuries – including bilateral upper extremity fractures, left hip, and leg fractures, loss of vision in his right eye, and loss of hearing in both ears. His medical bills exceeded $________, and he claimed he was permanently and totally disabled.

The claimant initially filed a claim against the owners of the property, the general contractor, and the subcontractor who had hired him. He subsequently dismissed the claims against those defendants (none of the parties had workers’ compensation insurance in effect at the time of the accident) and filed a claim against the defendant architecture/engineering company, which maintained workers’ compensation coverage for its employees.

The claimant alleged that the defendant architectural firm was his statutory employer since the defendant was involved in the selection of the general contractor for the project, drafted the documents between the owner and general contractor, had an office located on the job site, and oversaw the construction of the project.

The defendant maintained that there was no employer/employee relationship, and the defendant was not the claimant’s employer.The court found for the defendant and denied all benefits.

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