New York Construction Site Accident Law

by Construction Injury Attorney, Natascia Ayers, Esq.

Construction worker injuries and deaths in New York are increasing at alarming rates. The exposure to heights coupled with the use of heavy machinery and other items have combined to make construction the most dangerous job in New York. 

How dangerous is construction work in New York? To put it perspective, city officials confirmed that construction-related injuries are up 221% from five years ago, and fatalities have increased by 33%.

How do construction site accidents happen?

From unsafe work conditions and misuse of equipment, to poor safety training and pressure to meet deadlines, there is a host of reasons for why construction site accidents occur. 

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are about 150,000 construction site injuries every year. 

While the work environment for construction workers is dangerous enough, the building boom currently underway is also a major contributor for the increase in accidents and fatalities.

With project managers facing intense pressure to meet deadlines for residential, commercial and public building projects, construction workers are often forced to take unnecessary risks and cut corners.

What Type of Attorney Deals with Construction Site Accidents?

If you or someone you love has experienced a construction site injury, you need the expertise of a personal injury lawyer who specializes in construction injury cases.

It’s vital that your personal injury lawyer has a complete understanding of workers’ compensation requirements and New York labor laws – especially those laws put in place specifically for construction workers.

There are deadlines for filing much of the documentation that comes with such cases. Missing any of the deadlines can be extremely costly and damaging to your needs.

What is Different About Construction Site Accident Law in New York?

As disheartening as it is to hear about the frequency of construction accidents –particularly in New York – you should realize that construction workers in the Empire State have far more legal protection than in most others. 

Through several laws passed by New York legislators – New York Labor Law 200, New York Labor Law 240 and New York Labor Law 241 – construction workers have an added layer of legal protection when injuries occur.

In essence, those laws:

  • Require construction company owners and contractors make reasonable efforts to ensure a safe working environment;
  • Detail the responsibility of contractors, owners and their representatives to provide scaffolding that is safe, and states they may be held legally responsible for falls from scaffolding and similar devices; and
  • Spell out the requirements of project managers and owners to provide equipment that is safe to use by workers – regardless of the type of construction work they’re completing.

If you’ve experienced a construction injury, it’s imperative you select a personal injury lawyer who knows the ins and outs of all New York labor laws.

Types of Construction Site Accidents

Because of the nature of their job, many who experience construction site injuries suffer life-changing results. 

While there are numerous causes for accidents on construction sites, data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirms that the majority of injuries stem from what they call the “Fatal Four.” 

  1. Falls. Because many construction workers perform their jobs high above ground level, any fall has the potential to be devastating. Working on a platform comprised of a system of scaffolding and ladders is incredibly dangerous by itself. That danger is amplified even more when such heavy machinery is involved. 
  2. Being struck by an object. Beyond vehicles and moving equipment, construction workers have to account for a number of other objects. Tools and equipment can be knocked from platforms and edges. Nail guns can discharge. Cables supporting cranes and elevators can snap. Razor sharp saw blade tips can be chipped off and fall away.
  3. Electrocution. On just about any construction site, there are usually many powered sources and power lines stretching overhead and buried underground. Unknowingly striking any of the electrical sources can cause serious injuries and death to a construction worker.
  4. Being caught between objects. Construction workers are at risk of being crushed or having a limb caught in a machine’s moving parts. 

Beyond the “Fatal Four,” though are many other causes for construction site accidents and injuries. 

  1. Slip and falls. Falling from great heights is dangerous enough, but slip and fall accidents on the ground are also common on construction sites. Slick spots, debris and clutter, and unsteady or unsafe ladders and stairs can easily cause them.
  2. Ladder accidents. Whether they’re called on to perform masonry, painting, carpentry or other tasks, workers often use ladders throughout construction sites.
    • Injuries and fatalities stemming from ladder accidents can occur for many reasons, including:
      • Improper ladders being used differently from their designed use
      • Ladders being substituted to serve as a make-shift scaffolding
      • A worker’s clothing being snagged by a ladder surface
      • The ladder being loaded beyond its rated weight.

While carrying out their work, most construction workers are in highly vulnerable positions that can easily lead to an on the job injury or worse. 

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm these are the most commonly reported injuries from construction accidents: 

  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) stemming from skull fractures, falls, and lacerations
  • Burn injuries from electric wiring or explosive material being ignited or mishandled
  • Spinal injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Eye injuries
  • Sickness or illnesses resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals or other materials
  • Loss of hearing due from exposure to loud machinery
  • Amputation of limbs or digits
  • Damage to knees, arms and ankles 

If you experience an injury from a construction site injury, you’ll likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If your injury was directly caused by the negligence of another person, you may be able to seek justice and compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Common places for Construction Site Accidents to Occur

Many people associate construction site accidents with new structures. The truth, though, is that such accidents can occur practically anywhere.

Construction accidents routinely occur in renovation projects; demolition projects; business and home repair; road and highway construction and repair; new building construction, etc. 

Who is Liable in a Construction Site Accident?

As noted above, New York construction workers are protected by specific laws requiring landowners and general contractors to provide a reasonably safe working environment.

Whether it’s structural work, electrical work, carpentry work, plumbing work or any other type of construction task, the same laws apply. If the landowner or general contractor fails to make efforts to ensure the safety of the work environment, they may be held legally responsible.

Third parties may also be held liable if their negligence can be proven. This group includes contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers and makers of faulty equipment that played a role in the accident. 

Things to do After a Construction Site Accident

The likelihood of you receiving the compensation you deserve depends on you following these steps after experiencing a construction injury. 

  1. After everyone involved is confirmed to be safe, be sure to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident occur.
  2. Take photographs of the accident scene and of your injuries.
  3. See your doctor as soon as possible for a complete examination.Even if you’re feeling fine and do not yet see any evidence of an injury, a licensed doctor will know what to look for. In addition to diagnosing your injuries, your examination also begins a documentation of your injuries, which is vital to a possible personal injury case and workers’ compensation claims.  
  4. Let your employer know about your injury as soon as you can.There are strict 30-day deadlines in New York about notifying your employer and submitting a workers’ comp claim. The sooner you tell your boss, the better. Remember to keep copies of all paperwork concerning your accident and your worker’s comp claim. 
  5. Contact a NYC personal injury lawyer who specializes in construction accidents and workers’ comp claims.  

Again, the sooner you act, the better. There are strict deadlines that must be met in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits and launch a personal injury lawsuit. 

What Not to do After a Construction Site Accident

In many cases, the construction worker is the family breadwinner. Because of this, some are reluctant to do anything that would risk missing a day’s pay.

Unfortunately, that line of thinking often leads to inaction, which in turn usually results in the worker – and the family – missing out on compensation to cover bills generated by the accident. 

Common mistakes include:

  • Not being seen by a doctor, which puts the worker’s safety at higher risk
  • Failing to tell their supervisor about the accident
  • Not taking photos of the accident scene
  • Taking the word of employers and insurance providers that they’ll “take care” of the worker.

How Much Time do You Have to Sue After a Construction Site Accident?

Here in New York, you generally have three years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. There are exceptions to this, and that’s one reason why you need to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

For example, if you intend to take legal action against a government agency, your claim must be filed within 90 days. 

Also, if the accident resulted in the death of the worker, loved ones can file a wrongful death claim – but must do so within two years of the date of the accident. 

Taking Legal Action After a Construction Site Accident

The first order of business is filing a workers’ compensation claim to begin collecting benefits. 

All New York employers are required to provide workers’ comp coverage for their employees. The financial benefits can be used to cover costs, including:

  • Medical bills from your injury
  • Lost wages
  • Ongoing and future therapy required for recovery.

The deadline for filing a workers’ comp claim is 30 days from the date of the accident. 

Who you can sue.

Because some insurance providers will look for ways to deny workers’ comp claims, it’s definitely in your best interest to rely upon a personal injury lawyer who has experience in successfully handling such issues. 

You probably will not be able to sue your employer because of workers’ comp laws. 

However, you may be able to take legal action against the general contractor, landowner and potentially third parties associated with the project. 

  • Because gathering evidence and witness testimony takes time, it’s best to take legal action as soon as possible.
  • Once your personal injury lawyer has all the relevant information, negotiations for a settlement will probably begin with the insurance providers of the defendant.
  • If you agree to accept a settlement offer, you’re essentially waiving your claim against the defendant in exchange for a certain amount. However, if no settlement is reached, the case can proceed to court.Keep in mind that a settlement is possible up until the point a judge or jury reaches their decision.

Accepting a settlement means the case is over, you avoid a potentially drawn out court case and you’ll soon receive your money. 

By going to court, though, you may be rewarded with a more sizeable amount.

Deciding whether to accept a settlement offer can be a difficult choice. While the choice is ultimately yours to make, your personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you as to which is the best move.

How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case

As with most personal injury cases, several  elements must be proven for a claim to be successful.

  • The defendant had a duty to provide a safe environment or safe product.
  • The defendant broke that duty by taking a certain action or no action at all.
  • That action or inaction directly caused your injury.
  • Your injury was the direct result of the defendant’s action or inaction. 

What Happens After a Construction Site Accident Lawsuit is Won?

In some instances, a case doesn’t end after a jury decision. The defendant could appeal the decision and take the case to a higher court.

If there’s no appeal, your personal injury lawyer will give you a check – minus any funds that are owed to other parties who may need to be paid. 

Law Offices of Natascia Ayers Are Experts at Construction Site Accident Law

Construction site accident law is complicated. That’s why leveraging the skills and expertise of a personal injury lawyer who has a thorough understanding of New York labor laws and a reputation for aggressive negotiation with insurance providers is so crucial.

The attorneys with the Law Offices of Natascia Ayers has successfully secured millions in judgements and settlements for New Yorkers injured while doing construction work.

For example, NA Law secured a multi-million dollar decision for a plumber who was provided with the wrong ladder during a renovation project. The plumber suffered fractures to both ankles after falling from the ladder. 

The NA Law team will examine every aspect of your claim. Then, backed by a team of talented doctors, engineers and financial analysts, we’ll put develop and implement a strategy designed to win in court or secure the most favorable settlement for you. 

Contact Us

To begin the process of receiving the justice and compensation you deserve, get in touch with the Law Offices of Natascia Ayers. Our number is 646-398-8723 or you can complete our online form.

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