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Causes of Heavy Equipment Accidents at Construction Sites in NYC

Heavy Equipment Accidents at Construction Sites in NYC

As a New York City resident, you know that construction abounds throughout the city. According to a New York Building Congress report, construction spending in NYC reached an all-time high of $86 billion in 2022 — up by $38 billion from 2021. The city houses over 139,000 construction workers. 

Whether you are a construction worker, a nearby resident, or a passerby, you must take caution on and near construction sites. Unfortunately, heavy equipment accidents are relatively common on construction sites and can leave victims with severe, life-altering injuries. 

Our construction accident lawyer in New York City has worked with numerous construction accident victims throughout the city and the surrounding areas. Our legal team has the skills, experience, and commitment to help accident victims seek maximum compensation and move forward from their serious injuries. 

Read on to learn common causes of heavy equipment accidents at construction sites in NYC. Then contact our team at William Schwitzer & Associates, P.C., for assistance. 

What Is a Heavy Machinery Accident? 

A heavy machinery accident results from the failure or misuse of heavy equipment. These accidents sometimes occur on construction sites where heavy machinery and equipment use is prevalent. 

Heavy machinery accidents can involve a wide range of powerful equipment, such as:

  • Forklifts
  • Cranes
  • Bulldozers
  • Excavators and earthmovers
  • Industrial cutting equipment
  • Drilling equipment
  • Welding equipment
  • Rollers
  • Grinders
  • Sanders

Heavy equipment accident victims can include construction workers, construction managers, pedestrians, and trespassers. 

NYC Construction Accident Statistics

New York City construction workers may face a higher risk of severe injury and wrongful death than workers in other cities and states. A New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) report found that New York City has a higher construction fatality rate than the national average. In 2020, construction deaths accounted for 22% of worker deaths in the city, compared to a 21% country-wide rate. 

2020 also saw an increase in fines for construction safety violations compared to previous years. That year, the average fine amount was $44,779 in New York City, a 39% increase from 2019. 

According to a New York City Construction Safety Report from the Department of Buildings, 712 construction incidents occurred across the city in 2021, leading to 505 injuries. Of those injuries, nine fatalities occurred. 

These statistics indicate that construction injuries and accidents are prevalent throughout New York City. If you are one of the hundreds of construction injury victims in NYC, you need a qualified construction accident lawyer on your side. 

Common Causes of Heavy Equipment Accidents at Construction Sites

Heavy equipment accidents rarely occur when workers operate equipment according to safety standards and the equipment works as intended. These accidents have two primary causes: operator error and malfunctions. 

Construction workers must undergo thorough training before they can operate heavy machinery. They must also take extreme caution when using such machinery. 

Unfortunately, operator error is a primary cause of construction accidents. When workers act carelessly or have inadequate training, they can make serious mistakes that lead to injuries. Some heavy equipment accidents occur when construction workers operate equipment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Occasionally, equipment malfunctions can lead to heavy machinery accidents. Malfunctions can occur due to a few causes:

  • Lack of maintenance: The construction owner or manager failed to maintain the equipment according to the necessary requirements, leading the equipment to malfunction
  • Defects: The construction equipment is defective due to poor design or a manufacturing issue, leading to a malfunction

In some cases, construction workers and managers may disagree about the cause of an accident. A construction accident attorney can help gather evidence to support these cases. 

Types of Heavy Machinery Accidents

Heavy machinery misuse and malfunction can potentially cause a wide range of serious, life-altering accidents. A few common types of heavy machinery accidents include the following:

  • Fires and explosions: Construction accidents occurring due to gas leaks, chemical leaks, electrical malfunctions, and machine misuse leading to fires and explosions
  • Electrocutions: Accidents from electrical malfunctions or misuse that lead to electric shock 
  • Struck-by accidents: Construction accidents that occur when a piece of heavy machinery strikes a worker or pedestrian
  • Collapsing equipment accidents: Accidents occurring when machine parts collapse, such as the boom on a crane, and strike or pin individuals below 
  • Falls: Accidents when workers fall from scaffolding and other tall structures due to a lack of safety equipment 
  • Falling materials accidents: Construction accidents that occur when workers drop or fail to secure materials while working on tall structures, leading those materials to strike passersby 
  • Rollovers or tip-overs: Accidents that occur when workers or pedestrians become pinned under heavy machinery after it has rolled over or tipped over onto them 

Common Injuries from Heavy Equipment Accidents

The above construction accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries and even wrongful death. A few common injuries resulting from heavy equipment accidents include the following: 

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): When heavy objects or equipment strike a person’s head, even if the person is wearing a hard hat, they can lead to TBIs that cause lasting brain damage and a loss of quality of life. 
  • Amputation: When workers experience severe limb injuries, including burns, fractures, and crush injuries, they may require an amputation.
  • Fractures: High-impact accidents often lead to multiple fractures that can range from mild to severe. 
  • Burns: Explosions, fires, and electrocutions can cause victims to suffer burns ranging from first- to third-degree. 

When construction accidents lead to a victim’s death, they are considered wrongful death cases. 

Who Is At Fault in a Construction Accident? 

Even though heavy equipment accidents have two main causes — user error and malfunctioning equipment — they can have a wide range of liable parties. Sometimes, a single person or party is responsible for construction accidents. Other times, multiple parties share liability.

New York is a comparative negligence state. This doctrine allows insurance companies and courts to find multiple people liable for an accident. A person can seek compensation relative to their percentage of liability. 

A construction company may be responsible for its workers’ injuries in the following cases:

  • It failed to train workers before allowing them to use heavy machinery
  • It required employees to work long hours with few breaks
  • It failed to maintain and inspect equipment regularly to check for signs of malfunction
  • It failed to erect the proper signage to warn pedestrians of hazards and prevent injuries

A construction worker may be responsible for their own or others’ injuries in the following cases:

  • They used equipment incorrectly
  • They failed to follow safety protocol
  • They operated equipment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • They acted carelessly on the job site

In almost any case, when a construction worker experiences an accident on the job or while performing tasks within the scope of their job duties, they can claim workers’ compensation. Workers can still claim benefits even when the accident was their fault, as workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. 

A pedestrian may be responsible for a construction accident if they trespassed on the construction site. 

Occasionally, an equipment manufacturing company may be liable if its equipment suffered a manufacturing defect that led to an accident. 

How Can a Construction Accident Attorney Assist? 

Heavy equipment accidents can lead to severe, traumatic injuries and death. If you are a victim of a construction accident, hiring a construction accident attorney can be highly beneficial. 

Your attorney can assist with all tasks involved in claiming compensation for your injuries. For example, they can help with the following:

  • Filing insurance and legal compensation claims
  • Gathering evidence to support your claim
  • Proving another party’s negligence or liability
  • Communicating with all parties involved
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim

Your attorney can also provide legal advice and guidance throughout your case, taking a weight off your shoulders and enabling you to focus on your recovery. 

Contact a Professional New York Construction Accident Lawyer

As a construction worker, you must be aware of the common causes of construction accidents that could put you at risk of an injury. If you have been injured in a construction accident, our construction accident lawyer NYC can help. 

At William Schwitzer & Associates, P.C., we have extensive experience helping victims of heavy equipment accidents recover compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages, physical damages, and other expenses. We can put our legal experience to work to represent you well. 

Contact us today at 212-683-3800 to schedule your free legal consultation. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover funds for you. 

About The Author

John C. Merlino, ESQ.

John C. Merlino, ESQ.

John C. Merlino is a zealous legal voice for injured construction workers. A senior managing member of the firm, Mr. Merlino was born and raised in Brooklyn, to immigrant parents. Mr. Merlino learned the importance of educating our clients of their rights and being a strong-compassionate advocate. Mr. Merlino, along with his mentor William Schwitzer, are among the most respected Construction Site Accident Lawyers in the State of New York.