Just about every construction site requires its crewmembers to use or work from scaffolds. Bricklayers, masons, carpenters, ironworkers and painters all have to work from heights and typically, there is some type of staging or scaffolding that helps them do their jobs. However, it is important to understand that scaffolding, which enables workers to access parts of the building during construction or renovation, is a temporary structure and comes with certain risks. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), about 65 percent of all workers in the construction industry use scaffolds frequently. OSHA also estimates that 50 fatalities and 4,500 injuries occur each year in the United States due to scaffolding accidents.
Here are four important facts that you need to know about scaffolding accidents and what you should to do to protect your rights if you have been injured in a New York City scaffolding accident.
1. Scaffolding accidents are preventable.
It is true that workers who are on scaffolding may be more at ease and less vulnerable to hazards when compared to those who carry out their tasks on ladders. However, when scaffolds are not properly constructed or when workers don’t have fall protection, the situation can become dangerous very quickly. Here are some of the most common causes of scaffolding accidents, which when addressed in a timely manner can help prevent devastating on-the-job injuries:
• Lack of fall protection devices such as harnesses, safety nets, guardrails, etc.
• Weak planking that may cause the scaffold to collapse.
• Defective parts that cause failure.
• Shifting environmental conditions such as high winds or extreme temperatures.
• Lack of worker safety training.
2. New York’s Scaffolding Law is on the worker’s side.
New York’s Scaffolding Law allows injured workers the ability to bring civil actions against the parties responsible for maintaining a safe worksite. Courts have historically found contractors and owners strictly liable when a worker is injured or killed in a fall. In these types of cases, the worker or the family members of a worker who was killed in a scaffolding accident don’t have to prove that the contractor or building owner was negligent (careless). Unlike other types of personal injury lawsuits, an injured worker’s own negligence (carelessness) will not prevent recovery under the Scaffolding Law.
3. There is the potential for severe injuries when working on scaffolds.
The severity of the injuries suffered in scaffolding accidents often depend on the circumstances of the incident. Victims of scaffolding collapse accidents and slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents can suffer multiple bone fractures, internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or even death. Workers who are struck by falling tools and equipment may end up sustaining blunt impact injuries and penetrating injuries including brain trauma and severe lacerations.
If workers come into contact with live wires or electrical lines, they can be electrocuted. Workers injured in scaffolding accidents may not be able to return to work for a significant period of time and in some cases never. Even after surviving their accident, many workers tend to suffer long-term or in some cases permanent injuries and disabilities. They end up losing their livelihoods and are unable to provide for their families.
4. Injured workers can seek compensation for their losses
Workers who are injured in construction accidents may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits, which typically cover medical and drug expenses and a portion of lost wages. Families that have lost loved ones in a construction accident may be able to seek death benefits. In addition, workers and their families may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of parties, and therefore have two sources of compensation.
Third-party claims are filed against parties other than the employer or co-employees and may include general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, managing agents, construction companies, etc. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitative treatment, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries in a scaffolding or construction site accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com
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