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Elevator Mechanic Awarded $11.7M for Injury

By Jason Beahm on January 04, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An elevator mechanic who was injured during the construction of a San Rafael, California hotel was awarded $11.7 million by a Marin County jury after three days of deliberation. The injuries happened three years ago. David Travis sued Bison Builders for failing to maintain a safe work environment.

According to Travis, the Extended Stay hotel construction site was in violation of California clearance laws. Travis was required to carry heavy tools and parts under the scaffolding, which caused him to hit his head a number of times and suffer herniated discs, which compressed his spinal cord. According to testimony in the trial, Travis was nearly paralyzed, the Marin Independent Journal reports.

"(Travis) deserved what he got," said William Veen, Travis' attorney, of the verdict. "One thing about money -- it does give you power over your life. We're going to make sure that the money is invested so that his kids have trust accounts. They will have education, and he will have a place to live." The verdict is the largest personal injury settlement in Marin County history, according to Veen.

Some of the most common accidents at construction sites involve scaffolding, which can result from construction workers' falls from defective, improperly installed, or unreasonably safe scaffold equipment. Accidents also occur due to objects falling onto workers from scaffolds, lifts, and ladders.

California is often criticized for having unreasonable, technical requirements that lead to lawsuits for trivial details. This was not one of those cases. Travis, who is 6-foot-1, had to carry parts and his heavy tools under scaffolding that was only 5 feet, 7 inches high, well over a foot lower than state height requirements, the Marin Independent Journal reports.

According to testimony, former elevator mechanic Travis suffers burning and numbness, must wear diapers and is likely to end up in a wheelchair.

$11.7 million may not wind up being the final verdict. That's because Bison Builders was only found 75% liable. Therefore the verdict is likely to be reduced.

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