In 1980, contractor Timothy Culhane was working on a seven-story worksite when he tripped on some unsecured cabling laid down by electrical subcontractors. Those subcontractors were supposed to have the cables secured. They were also supposed to have perimeter cables on the roof to prevent accidental falls. They did neither, and Tim fell from the building and went seven stories down. He has no memory of the fall. Just of the injuries it caused. His legs, ankles and feet were all crushed from the fall, leaving one leg shorter than the other, and causing chronic, lifelong pain.
The fall completely disabled Timothy, who currently receives $800 a month in social security and disability. He sued the subcontractors and was given two options: a lump sum payment of $2 million, or a $1 million structured settlement annuity. His attorneys guided him to take the annuity. It currently pays him $13,327.75 a month.
“I knew nothing about investing money at the time, and I was not in a good place in my life back then. My attorney sort of did an intervention with me,” Timothy recalls. He was in extreme pain during the lawsuit and was on antidepressants for anxiety disorder. His lawyer brought in him, his wife, his mother and his sister to explain how the structured settlement annuity would work. The lawyer laid it all out on a big blackboard in his office.
The ELNY liquidation agreement will cut Timothy’s payments by 52%. He has just turned 62 and currently needs a right knee replacement; he will need a left knee replacement before long, and his hips are likewise starting to go. He does not know how he will afford these procedures on his new payment schedule.
Timothy has already sold his home in Delray Beach, Florida because of this. “I used to pay somebody to drive me around, or on a bad day, to help me get around my house. That’s out now,” Timothy says. “It’s hard for me to do anything. I can’t get around very well. When my friends want to go out to a ball game, I can’t. The walking just destroys me.”
Timothy currently lives with three friends in Plantation, Florida, 35 minutes from his former home. He expects to be with them for the foreseeable future while he figures out his finances. “This has devastated me,” he says. “I’m going to have to make it work. I’ll just have to cut everything. It’s going to be really hard.”