New York Construction Accident Attorney
Construction workers in New York City face significant hazards every single day on the job. They work with heavy machinery. They usually operate at elevations and on scaffolding. They also work below the ground in trenches. They use sharp tools and large pieces of equipment that may prove dangerous. The fact remains that even if this line of work is fraught with hazards, construction workers have the right to expect that they will be reasonably safe as they do their jobs and that their employers will ensure foreseeable injuries and risks are mitigated and/or eliminated.
However, that does not always happen. Construction workers in New York City tend to suffer serious, catastrophic if not fatal injuries on the job. These types of injuries not only devastate workers, but also their families and lead to emotional and financial hardships. Depending on the nature and extent of the injuries, workers may be unable to return to their jobs for an extended period of time and until they recover completely.
Workers who suffer catastrophic injuries may never be able to work again and earn a livelihood. It is important for a victim who has been injured in a construction accident to promptly contact an experienced New York construction accident lawyer who will help protect his or her legal rights and options.
Construction Accidents in New York City
Statistics from the New York City Department of Buildings show that construction accidents, especially fatalities, are on the rise. In 2014, construction accident fatalities more than doubled compared to the previous year. There were eight fatalities in 2014.
Statistics over the last few years have also consistently shown that construction sites are not getting any safer.
Even though the number of deaths have dropped from 19 in 2008, at the peak of the construction boom, to eight in 2014, the number of accidents has spiked to 231 from 151 over the same period, reflecting more than a 50 percent increase. In 2014, the city issued close to 142,000 building permits, up 20 percent from 2008. That number is only expected to increase in the coming years. It is also important to note that Hispanic and immigrant workers face a disproportionately higher risk of fatal injuries. A study by the Center for Popular Democracy shows that 74 percent of fatal falls suffered by construction workers in New York City involved Latino workers.
Common Causes of Construction Accidents
There are a number of reasons why construction accidents occur. However, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught in/between incidents. These four causes, more commonly termed as the “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than 57.7 percent of construction accident fatalities in the United States in 2013. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 478 workers’ lives in the U.S. every year, OSHA estimates.
Falls: Fall hazards are present at most worksites and many workers are exposed to these dangers on a daily basis. A fall hazard is anything at a worksite that may cause a worker to lose balance or lose bodily support, which results in the fall. Any walking or working surface may potentially be a fall hazard. Any time individuals are working at a height of four feet or more they are considered at risk for falling. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.
Struck-by Accidents: Getting struck by objects is another leading cause of construction-related deaths. Approximately 75 percent of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment such as trucks or cranes. These types of accidents can occur when a worker is hit by a vehicle, or by falling or flying objects or collapsing masonry walls. It is the building owners’ and general contractors’ responsibility to make sure that safety precautions are taken to prevent these types of accidents.
Electrocution: According to OSHA, about 350 workers die each year as a result of electrical accidents. The severity of the shock a person receives depends on the amount of electrical charge flowing through the victim’s body, the path of the current through the body and the length of time the body is in the circuit. Other factors that may affect the severity of the injury include the amount of voltage, the presence of moisture in the environment and the general health of the person who receives the shock. Effects can range from burn injuries to immediate cardiac arrest. The most common cause of electrocution in construction sites is contact with power lines.
Caught in/between Accidents: These occur when a worker is caught inside or in between different objects. These types of hazards are often created in the vicinity of heavy construction equipment. OSHA reports that in the year 2007, 294 workers died in these types of caught-in accidents. Of those, 192 deaths were in the construction industry. About 16 percent of construction deaths in the United States were the result of caught-in accidents. Such accidents are certainly preventable by placing guards on equipment and by providing safety gear and proper operational and safety training to workers.
Slip-and-Fall Accidents: There are several factors that may pose slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall hazards in construction sites. These types of incidents may be caused by construction debris, slippery surfaces and snow and ice. These hazards should be removed before commencement of work at a construction site. Workers should be provided with safety devices such as harnesses and guardrails.
Defective tools and equipment: Construction workers routinely use power tools, machines and equipment to complete their jobs. Ladders, nail guns welding torches, lifts, cranes, etc., can potentially malfunction causing serious injury or even death. When an injury occurs due to a defective tool, equipment or part, the manufacturer can be held liable for the resulting damages.
Fires and explosions: Construction sites often have exposed wiring, flammable chemicals and other substances that may lead to fires and explosions. Any mishandling or mishap involving these items can result in severe burn injuries or even fatalities.
Trench or building collapses: This is another common type of construction accident and occurs when a trench that is being built collapses. Building collapses occur when a part of the building that is under construction collapses on workers. Such accidents can result in catastrophic injury or death. Trenches and walls should be properly shored in order to avoid collapses.
Construction Accident Injuries
Construction accidents typically result in severe injuries or even fatalities. Even when a worker is not fatally injured, the extent of the injuries may result in lifelong disabilities, which render the victim unable to earn a livelihood or provide for his or her family. Here are just a few examples of the types of injuries suffered by construction workers on the job:
- Brain injuries: These are among the most common injuries suffered by construction workers. Brain injuries may occur at a worksite when a worker falls from an elevation such as a ladder or scaffold or gets hit on the head by a falling or flying object. Brain injuries are often catastrophic, which means victims may suffer permanent injuries that hamper their ability to work in the future.
- Spinal cord trauma: Spinal injuries may also occur when workers take a fall or when they get hit by objects. When the spinal cord is injured, depending on the nature, extent and location of the injury, workers may become partially or fully paralyzed. Those who suffer neck or back injuries may have to cope with chronic pain for the rest of their lives.
- Multiple fractures: Workers do survive bone fractures, but injured victims take a long time to recover from these injuries. Multiple fractures do have the potential to leave an individual permanently disabled. Victims are forced to undergo lengthy periods of rehabilitation, which can prove extremely costly. In some cases victims may not fully recover even after extensive rehabilitation.
- Internal organ damage: When workers are crushed by equipment or suffer falls from heights, they may suffer from internal organ damage. Injury to organs such as the lungs, spleen or kidneys may prove catastrophic for construction workers.
- Amputations: Limb and finger amputations leave workers unable to continue earning a livelihood. These types of injuries may occur in situations where power tools or equipment malfunction. Injured victims often find themselves spending money to pay for prosthetics and other costly devices necessary to maintain their quality of life.
- Burn injuries: Electrocution or fires at construction zones and work sites may cause severe burn injuries, which can be painful and costly to treat. Burn victims often need costly surgery and cosmetic procedures that may not be covered by health insurance.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in a construction accident, there are several steps you can take to protect your legal rights:
- Seek and obtain medical attention immediately after the injury.
- Report the incident and your injuries to your direct supervisor. Obtain a copy of the signed report.
- Gather the names and contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the incident.
- Take photographs of the location where it occurred and the equipment that may have caused your injury.
- Do not admit fault to anyone.
- Contact an experienced New York City construction attorney who will remain on your side and help protect your rights every step of the way.
- Do not rush into a settlement or sign an agreement until you have spoken with your attorney.
- Do not sign any waivers or grant insurance companies or other parties access to your health, financial or other personal information.
Third Party Compensation for Work Injuries
If you are a construction worker who has been injured on the job, workers’ compensation is not the only source of compensation. In many cases where workers suffered severe injuries and disabilities, workers’ compensation benefits alone proved inadequate to cover their losses.
In cases where the negligence of a party other than the employer caused the construction accident, workers may be able to file a third-party claim for significant money damages. Third-party claims are usually worth much more than workers’ compensation claims and help seriously injured workers and their families during their most challenging times. Here are a few examples of third parties that may be liable:
- General contractors or sub-contractors.
- Property owners.
- A firm that is responsible for maintaining or repairing equipment used at a site, such as cranes.
- The manufacturer of the defective product can be held responsible for injuries caused by malfunctioning products or equipment.
- A project manager, engineer or architect supervising the project.
- A scaffolding company that fails to install properly.
Damages You Can Claim
Injured workers can seek damages for the losses they have suffered depending on the nature and extent of their injuries. For example, the claim of a worker who has suffered a catastrophic injury that renders him or her unable to work again can seek more compensation than a worker who has suffered a relatively minor injury from which he or she can recover quickly. Here are some of the damages for which injured construction workers can seek compensation:
- All medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Rehabilitative treatment
- Permanent injuries
- Loss of livelihood
- Loss of consortium
- Past and future pain and suffering
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the result of a construction accident or if you have lost a loved one in a workplace 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. 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 in 2010.
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 cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously 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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