Immigrant workers (undocumented workers), a majority of them Latino, are at a heightened risk of suffering catastrophic injuries or getting killed in construction accidents because they tend to have fewer protections and safeguards compared to other workers and laborers in New York City. According to an article in The New York Times, from 2006 to 2016, nearly half of the workers at nonunion job sites in the city were Hispanic or Latin compared with about 30 percent at union sites. However, current estimates of workers at nonunion sites who are Latino is likely more than 50 percent, experts tell the Times.
The Times gives the example of a worker who had complained to his wife that his boss at a Bronx construction site was pressuring laborers and berating them for working too slowly. He also told his wife that after 17 years with the company, he was going to look for another job. But, the following week, on Aug. 27, he was killed after the third floor of the building where he was working collapsed, trapping his body under hundreds of pounds of rubble.
The deceased worker, who was also undocumented, was one of 12 people, 10 of them Latino, who died in construction accidents in 2019, according to preliminary data from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and the Department of Buildings. These types of construction accident deaths persist in construction sites in spite of the many rules and regulations the city has in place to safeguard workers. The families that are left behind have little recourse in order to fill the financial void created by such tragedies, the Times reports.
Union representatives say undocumented workers are less likely to have the same safeguards as other workers. That’s because workers who are undocumented are afraid to speak up due to their immigration status. Unethical companies tend to take advantage of that fear and insecurity among these workers, based on the report.
Know Your Rights
Regardless of immigration status, all workers have the right to a safe and secure workplace. Safety experts attribute the high number of construction injuries and deaths among immigrant workers to language barriers and lack of adequate job and safety training. Many companies don’t offer training in a language that all their workers understand, which makes it difficult for them to get trained properly.
Anyone who has been injured in a construction accident has legal rights, whether or not he or she is a citizen of this country. If you have been injured in a construction accident, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights. Report the accident right away to your supervisor and obtain a copy of the report for your records. Get prompt medical attention and treatment for your injuries.
Try to get as much evidence as possible from the scene. Immediately contact a New York City construction accident lawyer who can help obtain and preserve critical evidence as well as ensure that your legal rights are protected every step of the way.
General construction companies, managing agents, building owners, some contractors and sub-contractors have a duty to provide workers with protective gear such as hard hats, harnesses, goggles for eye safety, steel-toed boots and other equipment that helps them stay safe on the job. They also have a duty to provide workers with job and safety training in a language they can understand.
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. 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 thus 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.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries in a construction 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. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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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