Lives in Queens, injured in the Bronx / This story by construction worker Cresencio Pantoja describes his fall from a scaffold in the Bronx. Five years later, Mr. Pantoja is still unable to work due to his injuries but the settlement money from his lawsuit has helped pay for his medical costs and support his family.
I was working in a union job as a carpenter at a school construction site the day I fell. I was renovating the exterior of Herbert Lehman High School in the Bronx when I slipped on the wooden scaffold’s planks and fell twenty-three feet to the ground.
I don’t remember what happened next. Doctors said I was found unconscious at the accident scene and put into an ambulance. When I woke up, I was told that I was in a coma for three to four days due to a concussion and intra-cranial bleeding.
I fractured my skull, vertebrae and ribs, tore my rotator cuff and tendons in my wrist. After the accident, I had trouble hearing and seeing. I still have no feeling from my left elbow to my fingertips. The herniated disc still gives me much pain. I can’t lie down or walk around too much. I’ve had multiple surgeries on my left shoulder but my left arm still shakes a bit. Even with physical therapy, I still have severe pain in my left arm and back. I still have headaches and dizzy spells. I was also supposed to undergo surgery for my herniated disc but I decided not to have it performed after doctors warned me that the surgery might leave me wheelchair bound the rest of my life.
I was able to join the union because I was good at my prior construction jobs and had gained experience working in the industry. For this job, I was never given a safety harness and I was not given a secured line to attach a safety harness. My boss was more concerned with production than safety. Many other workers at the job also did not have safety harnesses.
Since the day of my accident, on January 2, 2007, I’ve still been unable to work. While my case was pending, I didn’t have money to buy Christmas gifts for my wife and three kids. I felt awful.
Some days it’s a struggle just to get out of bed. My injuries have taken its toll on my family. It’s painful to explain to my young children why I cannot play with them but I try to be strong for my family. When you first look at me, I may seem normal but I’m in pain and suffer from that accident every day. That accident forever changed my life- I have not and will never be the same.
Attorneys Paul Dansker and Doug Hoffer at the firm of Dansker & Aspromonte Associates represented Mr. Pantoja in his legal matter. His case settled in June of 2012.