Accidents happen, and sometimes they occur in the workplace. Unfortunately, if your workplace happens to be a construction site, an accident can be severe. When you fall or your equipment fails on a construction site, it could lead to a severe injury that keeps you out of work for months, years, or permanently. It may even lead to a fatality. If you are injured on a construction site, or someone you love was fatally hurt on one, it is essential to know why you need a construction accident lawyer in NYC and how one can help you.
Construction Accident Laws in New York City
New York labor laws are very detailed and very strict to protect those in the workforce. In particular, the state’s labor laws include three sections that pertain specifically to construction sites.
- Section 200 – Section 200 of New York Labor Laws protects workers and visitors on a construction site. It orders the owners of construction companies and other contractors to provide a safe working environment by taking the necessary steps to ensure machinery, equipment, and other items on the site are secure and safe to operate. It also requires job sites to have guardrails where necessary and provide adequate lighting. Dangerous situations on the job site must be identified with a notice that warns people of the location of the dangers.
- Section 240 – Section 240 of New York Labor Law protects a construction worker’s rights if they are struck by falling objects or experience a fall on the job site. This section of the law requires construction site owners to provide scaffolding, ropes, pulleys, ladders, and other necessary safety equipment for workers. If an accident occurs, an attorney can determine if the site was following the law under section 240.
- Section 241 – Section 241 is specific in that it covers construction sites that are working in demolition or excavation and the equipment necessary to do these jobs. The section directly addresses the materials and construction methods of the floors in new buildings and any hoisting apparatus, including elevators.
If you were injured on the job, don’t worry if you’re unsure which part of the labor laws your injury might fall under. Your attorney can help you determine which labor law sections are applicable to your case and help you proceed.
Common Types of Construction Accidents in NYC
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most common types of construction accidents in New York are falling, being struck by an object that fell, electrocution, accidents involving mechanical construction equipment, and scaffold or shoring incidents. Falling is the most common and makes up about a third of fatal construction injuries in the city.
Non-fatal injuries are often quite severe, resulting in traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, nerve damage, spinal fractures, organ damage, or internal bleeding.
These accidents occur for several reasons, such as violations related to fall protection standards, ladder safety standards, scaffold safety standards, stairway safety standards, and training requirements. They can also be boiled down to three major causes.
- Accelerated Schedules – New York City has been booming for more than a century. Construction companies are under significant pressure to complete jobs quickly, and those ambitious timelines can lead to too much pressure and cutting corners.
- Skill Shortage – Currently, there is a shortage of skilled laborers, which can lead to personnel working extra shifts on too little sleep. When construction companies are short-staffed, they may even be hiring people who aren’t exceptionally qualified to do the work..
- Short-Term Work – Finally, many construction workers are independent contractors who frequently switch between construction companies and sites. This means constantly adjusting to new policies and equipment, making it more likely for someone to make a severe mistake.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Injured Workers After a Construction Accident
There are two significant ways that a New York construction accident lawyer can help. An attorney can assist with filing for workers’ compensation benefits and, should the injured person decide to file a lawsuit, the attorney can assist throughout the process. Even if an injured person doesn’t plan to file a case, it’s essential to work with an experienced attorney when filing workers’ compensation claims.
Workers’ compensation is quite complex. Filing a claim requires filling out a lot of paperwork and submitting it by the required deadlines, not to mention providing documentation about the injuries sustained and the treatments provided. The person filing will also need to prove why they cannot work and how the medical bills and lack of income have negatively affected their quality of life. Factor in that the person is often still in recovery, and it’s easy to see why hiring an attorney to keep track of everything is essential, even if there are no complications. Sometimes, though, the company’s attorneys try to find fault in the claim to get it thrown out, which leads to court dates and the additional need for an attorney.
In addition to workers’ compensation claims, the injured person (or if the person is deceased, someone qualified to act on their behalf) will file a negligence claim. There may be a case for this if it is proven that the construction site owner or relevant contractors contributed to an unsafe work environment by not providing signage, not providing proper safety equipment, or otherwise not adhering to the appropriate New York labor laws. Filing a personal injury case often includes fact-finding and gathering evidence, not to mention negotiation with the company’s attorneys. It is imperative to have an attorney during such complex procedures.
Regardless of whether you’re filing for workers’ compensation, filing a personal injury lawsuit, or doing both, a personal injury lawyer NYC can help you to recover lost wages, receive compensation for the medical bills, gain compensation for pain and suffering, and help you by providing knowledgeable guidance throughout the process.
How to Choose NYC Construction Accident Attorneys
Choosing the right construction accident lawyer in NYC is essential for getting the most out of your potential case. First, determine what exactly your problem is. While many attorneys are adept at a range of situations, some specialize in specific cases. Determine whether you need someone who understands personal injury related to construction laws or is known best for their work in the workers’ compensation sector.
Next, gather the names of some attorneys who fall into the category you need. Personal referrals are an excellent way to find an attorney who may meet your needs. However, if you don’t know anyone who’s ever used a personal injury lawyer, you can also search online directories or call attorneys in your area. Set up initial consultations with three or four of them. During the talks, discuss your needs, similar cases the attorneys have won, what you can expect to pay, the attorney’s process, and their credentials. This way, you can determine which firm seems to meet your needs best, is willing to answer your questions, and has experience with similar cases.
When deciding whether to file a personal injury case after a construction accident, it is essential to keep the statute of limitations in mind. In the state of New York, you have three years to file your lawsuit. However, if your loved one died due to a construction accident, you only have two years to file suit. Government agencies have a much smaller statute of limitations. If you decide to file a case against one, you will only have 90 days after the accident to do so.
What To Expect During Your Construction Accident Case
What to expect during your case dramatically varies depending on where you were injured, how, and who was responsible. Should you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll first want to talk to your attorney to help you determine who is at fault. Your direct supervisor may not be at fault or may only be partially at fault. Other people who may be liable for your injury include the property owners, other contractors, architects, equipment manufacturers, utility companies, third-party vendors, or even government agencies. An attorney can help you determine who is at fault by interviewing witnesses, hiring experts to evaluate the accident scene, analyzing the accident reports, obtaining safety records of the involved parties, and more.
Filing a Summons and Complaint
Once the at-fault parties are determined, your attorney will file a summons and complaint, which notifies the defendant of your claim and provides information about the accident and why they are considered liable. Next, the defendant will answer the lawsuit, which can take up to 30 days. Most often, the defendant denies the claims, so your attorney prepares a bill of particulars. This outlines the exact situation, why the defendant is at fault, and how necessary compensation is. The proof will be required, often in the form of employment authorizations, insurance or workers’ compensation information, contact information for witnesses, evaluations from doctors and other medical professionals, and any photographic or video evidence. From there, a preliminary conference takes place.
Preliminary Conference Scheduling
During the preliminary conference, which is often the first court appearance for the case, the mandatory oral and physical exams and the document production schedule are all put on the calendar. This must take place before the case is set on a trial calendar. You will not need to attend the conference personally, but your attorney will. Next, court scheduling occurs. Before your trial date, there will be an Examination Before Trial (EBT).
The EBT, or the deposition, is an oral exam is conducted outside of court but under oath. A court reporter records the answers you give regarding your claim, which your attorney will practice with you before the exam. It is essential to be professional, dress neatly, and answer questions honestly and naturally.
A physical exam will likely also be necessary. The defendant will choose the doctor and the exam will cover the injuries you’re claiming in the case. This exam is court-ordered and mandatory. Keep in mind that the doctor may also looking for medical reasons to testify against you. Answer their questions truthfully but do not provide details outside of essential cooperation. Your attorney can give you more detailed instructions based on your situation.
Finally, comes settlement discussions. This can take weeks, months, or longer, so keep in mind that you likely won’t see an end to your trial or receive money right away. However, once your attorney and the defendant’s attorneys reach an agreement, it typically takes about three weeks for your attorney to obtain the settlement money. They will take a percentage as payment and forward the rest to your bank account. Keep in mind that any government agencies providing compensation will have up to three months to do so.
Schedule a Consultation Appointment
If you are a construction worker who has been injured on the job, or if someone you love was fatally injured on a construction worksite, you must get the compensation you deserve. The trial lawyers at William Schwitzer & Associates are ready to assist you. Our professionals have years of experience, are always compassionate about your situation, and are dedicated to providing high-end legal representation to fit your needs. Our goal is to protect your rights and fight against big corporations and insurance companies in your name. Talk to a construction accident lawyer in NYC today to learn more about our services and discuss your potential case day.