In a recent Maryland wrongful death case, a tragic construction accident resulted in the death of a worker who was rigging a modular unit. The decedent’s estate brought a negligence and wrongful death action against several defendants, including another subcontractor assisting with the construction. After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed the decision in a July 28, 2021 opinion.
The decedent was a construction rigger for a subcontractor working on a new building on a school campus. The building was constructed using prefabricated modular structures, which were lowered by a crane into a concrete foundation and welded together. As the rigger on site, the decedent was responsible for planning the lifting configuration of the modular units. Before the operation began, the defendant expressed safety concerns about the use of nylon straps and other equipment to secure and lift the unit into the foundation. The operation proceeded as planned, however, and the unit was lifted while the decedent guided the crane operator. After signaling to stop, the decedent moved to release the ratchet strap underneath the unit. A few seconds later, the nylon straps severed, causing the unit to fall and trap the decedent.
To succeed on a Maryland negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that he was owed a duty by the defendant, the defendant breached such duty, the plaintiff was injured, and the defendant’s breach proximately caused the injuries. Even if all elements of negligence are proven, a plaintiff will be completely barred from recovery if the defendant establishes that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.