Operating heavy equipment on a construction site can be dangerous. Caught-in-between hazards cause injuries to hundreds of workers across the country every year. Understanding these dangers can help you avoid unnecessary accidents on the job involving being caught underneath or between equipment.
If you experience a caught-in-between injury, a construction accident lawyer in NYC can help you pursue compensation for your losses. They will collect evidence, review your claims, and represent you during settlement negotiations.
What Is a Caught-in-Between Hazard?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses the terms “caught-in” and “caught-between” broadly to describe several types of workplace injuries.
Caught-in-between hazards are heavy workplace objects that could crush workers between or under surfaces. According to OSHA, caught-in-between hazards are one of the four construction site focus hazards they prioritize in their workplace safety and training outreach program.
Examples of caught-in-between accidents include:
- A heavy construction vehicle pinning one or more workers between hard objects.
- Botched excavations or demolitions trapping workers under rubble.
- A worker accidentally catching their loose clothing in rotating equipment, pulling them into the machinery.
- A worker placing their hands too close to a spinning blade, cutting their fingers.
- Falling construction materials landing on workers below.
Recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics emphasize the danger caught-in-between hazards pose for workers in the construction industry nationwide. Over 140 deaths occurred from these injuries in 2021, and they remain a leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries.
Common Caught-in-Between Injuries
Caught-in-between hazards can cause significant injuries that result in expensive hospital bills. Compressions, crushes, and pinches may lead to:
- Amputation of fingers, toes, or limbs
- Ruptured organs
- Multiple bone fractures
- Spinal injury
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic head injury
- Internal and external bleeding
- Permanent disfigurement
Many construction workers who sustain caught-in-between injuries also experience non-economic damages, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Physical or mental impairment
- Emotional distress
Reducing the Risk of Caught-in-Between Hazards on a Construction Site
Construction safety should be the number one priority on every jobsite. Paying attention to moving parts in your surroundings and wearing the proper safety equipment can reduce your risk of injury. You can also follow these tips to prevent unnecessary caught-in-between disasters:
- Avoid wearing loose clothing and accessories around machines
- Disconnect power tools and appliances when they are no longer in use
- Turn off vehicle engines and engage breaking mechanisms before attempting maintenance
- Don’t walk between a movable object and a stationary surface
- Team-lift heavy objects that don’t require cranes
- Do not stack heavy objects too high on top of each other
- Do not excavate in a non-reinforced trench or hole that is deeper than chest level
- “Slope” the walls of all trenches to prevent cave-ins
- Only use ladders, stairs, or ramps to enter and exit trenches
- Monitor protective systems and report faulty equipment to your supervisor immediately
- Keep safety shielding on all your tools
How Can Employers Reduce the Risk of Caught-in-Between Accidents?
Your employer also has an obligation to comply with OSHA regulations to prevent injuries on the job site. Violations of these standards could make them financially liable for your injuries. Employer responsibilities include:
- Ordering ladders, cranes, and scaffolding that meet OSHA’s minimum criteria
- Guarding belts, flywheels, sprockets, and other moving objects
- Adding appropriate signage and signals to indicate caught-in-between hazards
- Performing routine safety inspections of the jobsite and equipment to reduce hazards
Filing a Claim After a Construction Caught-in-Between Accident
Accidents can occur with little or no warning. Fortunately, you can explore several ways to pursue compensation if you sustain a caught-in-between injury at your construction site:
New York law dictates that your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses for workers who sustain injuries on the job. You can file a C-3 form with the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board within two years of your accident to qualify for benefits. A workers’ comp payout can cover your medical expenses and partial reimbursement for lost wages but may not cover all of your losses, like loss of future earning capacity.
If your employer does not know about your injury, you should report it to them immediately. You have 90 days to submit a written report to be eligible for workers’ compensation.
If workers’ compensation does not pay for all your damages, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against negligent third parties. For example, if a faulty brake system on a construction truck caused the vehicle to roll and pin you to a wall, you could sue the manufacturer for product liability.
Unlike workers’ compensation claims, you must prove fault to collect reimbursement in a personal injury lawsuit. A New York City construction accident lawyer can build your case and present it before a judge.
Still, a court date may not be necessary. According to the New York City Comptroller, nearly 2,000 individuals resolved their personal injury cases through out-of-court settlements before reaching the trial phase.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Unfortunately, many caught-in-between accidents are fatal. You have the right to pursue compensation if you are a child, spouse, or parent of a deceased worker. An attorney can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit against liable parties to cover the following damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The unpaid medical bills of the deceased worker
- Loss of household earnings
- Counseling for grief, PTSD, and anxiety
How Does Hiring a New York Construction Accident Lawyer Help?
If you are recovering from injuries caused by caught-in-between hazards, a lawyer can guide you through the legal process of seeking compensation. They can manage your medical documents, organize witness testimonies, and provide educational resources that help you understand your rights as an injured worker. A trustworthy construction accident attorney will also update you with claim filing deadlines and court dates.
Depending on the severity of your caught-in-between accident, some insurers may try to undercut your claim. Representing yourself likely won’t resolve this problem. Licensed attorneys know how to communicate to your insurance companies, courts, and at-fault parties without incriminating you.
They will represent your interests and tirelessly fight for your rights. Construction accident lawyers know the challenges you could face during the reimbursement process. This knowledge will be critical when it comes time to confront at-fault lawyers or a jury.
At William Schwitzer & Associates, PC, we pride ourselves on helping hundreds of construction workers like you pursue justice under the law. Our lawyers represent workers who manage catastrophic injuries from occupational hazards and employer negligence. We provide a safe and confidential space to discuss the details of your case
Learn more about the common causes of NYC construction accidents from our attorneys.
Frequently Asked Questions About Caught-in-Between Hazards
Having the right information can help you better understand caught-in-between hazards. Here are some answers to your frequently asked questions:
What Are the Major Types of Caught-In and Caught-Between Hazards in Construction?
The highest-risk caught-in or caught-between hazards on construction sites are excavation cave-ins, unguarded power tools, and falling loads. For example, a trench caving in and crushing or suffocating construction workers. These occupational disasters could injure workers causing long-term medical complications and disfigurement.
How Can You Prevent Caught-in-Between Hazards?
Following OSHA guidelines is a practical way to reduce your risk of sustaining caught-in-between injuries. Apply your occupational safety training when operating heavy equipment and adhere to danger signs and signals posted around the job site.
What Are Caught-Between Hazard Engineering Controls?
Engineering controls protect workers from potential hazards. Engineering controls may require your employer to reorganize the construction site to eliminate caught-in-between hazards. For example, trench sloping reduces the risk of cave-ins by chipping away vulnerable sides of the hole.