Worker Safety – Oscar Avalos’s Story
In this INSIDER EXCLUSIVE Investigative Special, our News team “Goes Behind The Headlines” in this Justice in America TV Special… “WORKER SAFETY – Oscar Avalos’s Story” to examine how Jim Scherr and Sam Legate Partners @ Scherr Legate successfully got justice for Oscar.
Every business….regardless of its size….. must provide its employees with safe working conditions, and considering the range of potential hazards — from asbestos to slippery stairs to excessive noise …. that can be difficult for a small business. So why should everyone be so concerned about job safety and health? Because each year… approximately 6,000 employees in this country die from workplace injuries while…another 50,000 die from illnesses caused by exposure to workplace hazards.
In addition, 6 million workers suffer non-fatal workplace injuries at an annual cost to U.S. businesses of more than $125 billion dollars. Standards and rules for safe working conditions…. tools, equipment….. Facilities and processes are set by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA standards apply to every private employer with one or more employees…. except for those in industries covered by other federal job safety legislation. Today…. roughly 93 million employees across the country are protected by state and federal OSHA programs. But even with adequate safety measures, accidents do happen.
On Sept. 14, 2006, Oscar Avalos, a 54 year old El Paso construction worker and another worker were placing a sewer line inside a 7-foot-deep trench off Doniphan Drive, in El Paso Texas. The city contract required an engineer-approved trench safety system that would have prevented a collapse. Instead, the dirt walls were held up by large metal plates. Trench collapse is one of the greatest dangers in water and sewer construction.
Protection against trench collapse is simple, effective and has been around for over 30 years. On a government job, where the government required trench safety, the contractor took shortcuts. Shortcuts can mean death or serious bodily injury. And Those shortcuts resulted in tragedy for the Oscar Avalos
The Trench walls fell while he and his co-worker were in the hole. A plate weighing 1,500 pounds dropped on Avalos as dirt rained down. His co-worker escaped by crawling out, but Avalos was pinned. Thousands of pounds of dirt and metal plates fell atop him. He was suffocating, and in a lot of pain. A worker using an excavator tried to lift the metal plate, but it fell again on Avalos. His co-workers pulled him out unconscious. Ten days later he awoke up from a coma. Avalos’ spleen was shattered, and his pancreas was removed in emergency surgery. He had 11 broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and broken bones in his back and a shoulder injury. Avalos can walk but is now disabled and will require further neck and back surgery.
Jim Scherr and Sam Legate won a $4.4 million jury verdict for Oscar…. but that hasn’t taken away the injuries from a trench collapse that could have killed him. After the verdict, Avalos was quoted as saying …..”I think justice was served….”The jury helped me when nobody would help me. And I especially want to thank my lawyers, Jim Scherr and Sam Legate.”
Jim and Sam have earned the highest respect from citizens and lawyers alike…. as two of the best Trial lawyers in El Paso…. In Texas….. and in the nation. And because of that, they are driven to fight for people who had been harmed by the willful or negligent actions of others. Jim and Sam have built a substantial reputation nationwide by consistently winning cases other law firms have turned down. And their amazing courtroom skills and headline grabbing success rate continue to provide their clients with the results they need……And the results they deserve!
You can contact Jim or Sam @ Scherr & @ Legate PLLC or call (915) 544-0100.