What steps contributed to the electrocution of this HVAC repairman?

The trial workers compensation attorneys of Lipkin & Apter were asked by a large law firm in Chicago to investigate a possible cause of action around the tragic death of a 52 year old HVAC repairman. The victim had been making repairs for several years at a multi-building condominium high-rise in downtown Chicago. He was not an electrician, but a pipe fitter by trade. The electrical controls and connections to the building’s 10 fans had long been in a state of disrepair. Rust was rampant, and a main disconnect to shut-off the electricity powering the fans had been disengaged. To turn off power to the system, the construction worker would have to enter another building and go down and up some 50 stairs to the main circuit breaker for the HVAC system. Turning off the circuit breaker was frowned upon by the building as its approximately 550 tenants would then be left without any air conditioning.

On a Labor Day weekend the construction worker came to the building to drop off a proposal to replace the electrical control system to the HVAC unit. While there, he was asked to repair a fan which was not working. While pulling 3-phase wires to the fan, which had faulted-out – the worker cut into a live wire with a non-insulated wire cutter, and was immediately electrocuted.

Following a complete review of both City and Federal investigations into this unfortunate death, Lipkin & Apter' workers compensation lawyers decided to accept the case. It appeared to our lawyers that while the worker was partially at fault for his death by failing to check the conductivity in all 3-phases of the wires before cutting (there was evidence that he had checked electrical flow into a least one of the wires), and failure to use insulated wire cutters or to have de-powered the system at the level of the circuit breaker, the building was in violation of the Chicago Electrical Code for the rusted condition of its electrical equipment, an absence of a disconnect in the control panel.

Successful Resolution: $1,350,000

After 4 years of working on this workers compensation case, the defendants, the building’s condominium association and property manager, agreed to pay the worker’s widow the sum of $850,000.00. The worker’s employer also paid $500,000.00 in a lump sum in the companion workers compensation case.

The lawyers at Lipkin & Apter' Illinois law firm represent a variety of personal injury clients. Schedule a free consultation to find out how our team of workers compensation attorneys can help you.