Nearly 500 workers were injured on New York City’s construction sites during 2020. Those injuries, however, only reflect incidents that were reported. Estimates show that as many as half of work-related severe accidents go unreported. Failing to report an on-the-job accident is not in your best interests. A delayed and painful medical condition or injury may develop weeks after an accident occurs. Consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable construction accident attorney could help determine whether an accident qualifies for compensation. You may have also experienced a severe worksite accident that was not your fault.
If employers or third parties cause a worker’s accident or could have prevented it, they can be held liable. In addition to any lost earnings, you may receive compensation for medical expenses and continuing treatments. You could also be awarded damages for the pain and suffering the injury caused. If the accident was caused by another party’s recklessness or gross disregard for safety, a jury might decide to award punitive damages.
Worksite Safety Is an Employer’s Responsibility
New York State has enacted a range of laws to protect its workers. Several of those statutes apply specifically to workers and visitors on constructions sites. Worksite safety is a primary focus, and New York’s labor laws require contractors and building companies to take the necessary steps to help ensure safe onsite conditions.
New York State Laws
Section 240 of NY State’s laws cover injuries related to falls. Employers are required to protect workers from high-level falls or being struck by falling objects. Worksite falls reflect almost 40% of the fatalities occurring on construction sites.
Section 241 of New York State’s laws include statutes covering construction, excavation and demolition work, including safe preparation of the job site. New York City construction site violations may have reached alarming levels. In June, NY WABC News reported that the city’s Department of Buildings closed more than 300 construction sites across the five boroughs because of safety violations.
Injured Workers Have a Legal Right To Sue for Damages
Construction site injuries resulting from worksite safety violations may require filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover all legally allowable damages. The range of federal, state, and local statutes involved may, however, introduce complex issues. An experienced construction site accident lawyer may prove to be a vital asset for an injured worker seeking the total compensation they deserve.
Well-chosen legal representation may also account for a significant advantage when an injured worker hopes to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. A large corporation may prove agreeable to a pre-trial settlement as a means of avoiding the bad press that could be associated with an accident. However, this is not an approach that an injured individual should attempt on their own. A seasoned negotiator is called for to avoid being taken advantage of.
Construction Accident Lawyer in New York City
Under certain circumstances, an injured worker may choose to file for workers’ compensation. In cases where employees are entirely at fault for causing their injuries, workers’ comp’s “no-fault” aspect may appear as an easily accessible route. However, submitting a workers’ comp claim may, in some cases, prevent injured employees from filing a legal action to recover from other parties. Construction injury lawyers understand the issues involved and represent a seasoned source of advice and recovery options. For example, in New York City, injured employees receiving workers comp benefits may also recover damages from other parties who contributed to their accident.
The Top Four Construction Site Hazards
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noted four primary causes of construction site hazards that contribute to worker accidents. The top four causes are falls, being struck, caught in or between objects, and electrocution. The number of deaths related to these hazards is often referred to as “the fatal four.” They have contributed to the construction industry becoming one of the most dangerous occupational fields. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of fatal construction injuries in 2019 accounted for more than 20% of the total workplace deaths that year.
Employers and site owners are required by law to implement and enforce measures to prevent or minimize hazards on their construction sites. For example, employers are expected to provide their workers with personal fall arrest equipment to prevent falls. Construction supervisors are required to inspect the placement and effectiveness of scaffolds and ladders. Site management must also ensure that perimeter protection is in place and minimizes or eliminates the threat of falling objects that could cause harm.
In the case of electrical hazards, site owners and employers must locate and identify underground utilities before workers begin digging or excavating. To protect workers from ground-fault electrical shocks, circuit interrupters should be installed on worksite equipment. Employers or contractors who fail to protect workers from electrical hazards adequately may be held liable for any resulting injuries.
Common Safety Violations That Can Influence Accident Case Outcomes
In addition to noting the top four worksite hazards, OSHA has reported that the types of safety violations found have remained relatively unchanged over the past few years. Construction accident lawyers build strong cases to recover workers’ injury damages when violations are discovered at job sites. The top offense that OSHA cited during 2020 was a failure to meet the general requirements of fall protection.
The related areas of scaffolding and ladders ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Failure to meet the training requirements of fall protection ranked eighth in OSHA’s top-ten safety violation list. Accidents involving falls reflect many of the cases that construction accident lawyers contend with and factor in the type of recovery an injury lawyer can obtain.
Employers Are Responsible for Communicating Site Hazards and Providing Respiratory Protection
Also included in OSHA’s 2020 safety violation ranking were hazard communication and respiratory protection. Construction sites are not without their related hazards, but site owners and employers must still take steps to provide visible warnings to both workers and visitors. Failing to do so may lead to workers tripping or slipping while carrying tools, equipment, or materials. The employer may be held liable for any resulting injuries.
In addition to communicating environmental hazards, such as open trenches, employers and site managers must identify chemical hazards. Training must be provided when using certain chemicals or mixing certain chemicals that may cause health hazards. Third-party manufacturers are also responsible for providing clear warning labels on products used by workers. Specialized training in the use of worksite chemicals may be needed. Injuries that result from a failure to provide training regarding the safe use of construction-related chemicals may give ample cause for a personal injury lawsuit.
NYC Construction Accident Lawyers
Providing workers with protective respiratory equipment may become a life-or-death issue in cases where construction or demolition work carries the potential to release toxic fumes. OSHA notes that employers and site owners must protect workers from atmospheric contamination. Protective gear must be provided to prevent harm from toxic fumes, gases, dust, sprays, or vapors.
A failure to provide the necessary protective equipment, such as an air-purifying respirator, may result in an injury suit if a worker suffers harm or develops a long-term medical condition. A construction accident lawyer may be required to provide medical evidence to the court that worksite fumes or chemicals caused a worker to incur lung cancer or respiratory impairment.
How a Responsible Party May Be Held Liable for Injury Damages
In the case of an injury caused by a fall or a falling object, a construction worker may file a lawsuit under Section 240 of New York State’s labor laws. A personal injury action may result from any accident shown to be “gravity-related,” even if the injured worker is also receiving incident-related workers’ comp benefits. The law’s near-absolute liability for damages may be imposed on the employer or contractor regardless of the circumstances. Based on the notable exceptions provided in Section 240, injured workers may file a third-party lawsuit and be protected from their comparative fault claims.
If a worker’s injuries result from a defective tool or malfunctioning equipment, the manufacturer may be liable. Negligence or recklessness exhibited by other contractors at the site may also factor into a worker’s injuries. Such actions may lead to a suit filed against the other contractors’ employers.
If an injury results from an unsafe worksite, the party at fault might be the property owner. In many cases, the first party that may be considered liable is the worker’s employer. The specific nature of the legal action and the party claimed to be at fault is one of the most important examples of guidance that construction injury lawyers provide.
A Construction Site Accident May Become a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The surviving family members of a worker who died due to a construction site accident may have cause to file a wrongful death lawsuit. When a worker’s death results from negligence, a safety violation, or defective equipment, a wrongful death suit can help a family recover from a devastating event. The court may also award the family financial compensation for the loss of the worker’s anticipated income.
Construction Accident New York State Law
New York State law requires the individual filing a wrongful death action to be the executor of the deceased’s estate. For a family member to file the suit, they must also be the deceased’s named executor or personal representative. In addition to remaining sensitive to the feelings of grief and confusion that a family is most likely experiencing, the family’s chosen construction site accident lawyer must be well prepared to prove to the court all of the facts of the case. Many cases may be decided by a jury rather than result in an out-of-court settlement.
What To Keep In Mind When Choosing a Construction Accident Attorney
When dealing with an injury related to a construction site accident, choosing the right attorney can play a vital role in the outcome. The applicable laws and the facts of the case may present hurdles that need to be overcome if the case proceeds to trial. Experience counts heavily in this particular area of law.
As an injured worker or family member in a wrongful death case, you may feel less anxious if you know all of the particulars of the legal battle ahead. A lawyer who can explain everything in understandable terms can significantly bolster a client-attorney relationship. In many cases, the ability of an attorney to show a genuine understanding of how an accident has affected you and your family can influence how a case proceeds.
NYC Construction Accident Attorneys
The attorney you choose should have a respected reputation in their specific practice area and a proven track record that shows the ability to win your particular type of case. If your case, for example, is coming up against a large corporation, consider an attorney who is no stranger to taking on a big company’s legal team. A sign of an attorney’s well-justified confidence in winning your case is often reflected by their offer to work with you on a contingency basis. Your confidence level grows from the assurance that there will be no fees charged to you unless your attorney recovers damages for you.
Learn All About Your Options — With No Fees
The highly experienced construction accident legal team at William Schwitzer & Associates can assist you in recovering the total amount of injury damages you deserve. We will take the time to sit down with you at our New York City office and discuss all of the options available to you and your family. We will also take your case on a contingency basis and charge no fees unless we recover for you. Call us toll-free at (800) 933-1212 or contact us through our website to set up a free legal consultation.