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Paralyzed Worker Awarded $21.7 Million

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Baltimore, MDA worker who was paralyzed from the neck down due to a severe neck injury has been awarded $21.7 million. The neck injury happened while the man was working at a Pepco site in 2013, after he was hit by electricity from a transformer that was accidentally left on. The victim then filed a lawsuit against Pepco, alleging negligence on its part.

According to The Washington Post (10/24/14), Hugo Hernandez Palomino came into contact with a transformer that was supposed to have been shut off but was actually left on. As Palomino was in the process of constructing scaffolding, he was reportedly hit by an electric arc, which caused him to fall from the scaffolding and break his neck. He also suffered severe burns.

Palomino, who was in his mid- to late-20s at the time of the accident, now has 24-hour medical care and requires machines to perform functions that his organs can no longer perform. According to court documents, he lives in a long-term high- intensity care facility and has been in and out of critical condition since the accident. He also underwent multiple medical procedures, including skin grafts. Palomino’s lawsuit alleged that Pepco was negligent in not turning off the electrical voltage and not providing adequate supervision.

Among the machines he requires is a respirator because his lungs are too weak to empty and fill on their own.

A jury awarded Palomino $35.9 million, but the amount was reduced to $21.7 due to a cap on non-economic damages in Maryland. The jury had originally awarded $15 million for non-economic damages, which was reduced to $770,000. The jury awarded almost $19 million for future medical expenses, $1 million for future lost wages and almost $1 million for past medical expenses and past wages.

Pepco had previously accepted liability in the incident. According to reports, Palomino was not a qualified electrical technician and was not experienced in working near such high-voltage electrical units.

The lawsuit was Palomino v. Potomac Electrical Power Company, case number 379804-V, in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, filed August 2, 2013.

Lawsuits have been filed against various employers alleging workers were injured on job sites and suffered debilitating back and neck injuries, sometimes resulting in permanent paralysis.


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