In one year alone, 5,250 workers died on the job in construction accidents in the United States, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many more workers sustained severe, life-altering injuries in preventable incidents on construction sites. Grieving families and injured workers deserve compensation for the pain and difficulty construction accidents cause. Obtaining that compensation, however, is not always as easy and straightforward as it should be.
If a construction site accident in New York leaves you or a loved one seriously injured or tragically takes a life, then you deserve an attorney who will aggressively fight to maximize the amount of money you receive in workers’ compensation benefits and (potentially) other forms of compensation.
Construction Site Dangers
Construction site injuries are common, even when construction workers and their employers follow good safety practices (which does not always happen, of course). Workplace accidents can occur in any industry but are more common in construction because of:
- Heavy equipment – Work on construction sites often requires the use of heavy, complex, and specialized machinery which, if operated improperly or carelessly, can cause serious injuries.
- Falling – Buildings still under construction do not have all the safety features of finished buildings. Construction workers frequently must work at high heights in structures with exposed ledges, open shafts, empty window panes, and other features that increase the risk of falling.
- Toxic materials and substances – Construction sites often expose construction workers to hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead. Workers also frequently come into contact with powerful solvents and combustible gases, which can also cause serious health problems if mishandled.
- Roadside zones – Roadside construction zones often put workers’ lives and safety at risk because of the ever-present danger of drivers who do not take care when traveling past.
- Stress and repetitive injuries – Construction work can involve heavy lifting and repetitive motions which can cause repetitive stress injuries in construction workers, like severe back, neck, and shoulder injuries, and chronic arthritis.
These are not the only dangers construction workers face. From the moment a worker steps onto a construction site, his or her risk of injury increases. Even minor injuries can cause extreme pain and financial hardship. Make sure you get the medical attention you need to get better and the legal service you need to maximize your recovery.
Common Types of Construction Accidents
Construction accidents are unfortunately common and largely preventable. More than20 percent of all workplace fatalities in the United States occur in construction settings, and many more cause serious injuries. Common preventable causes of injuries on a New York construction site include:
- Slip, trip, and fall
- Falling equipment
- Crane accidents
- Machinery accidents
- Chemical exposure
- Scaffolding accidents
- Ladder accidents
- Building collapse
- Forklift injuries
- Fires and explosion
- Unsafe work site
- Supervisor negligence
- Inadequate training
This list is not all-inclusive. There are many more types of accidents we see victims suffer from while working at a construction site. You deserve the best chance of making a full and complete recovery after your accident. Don’t delay in contacting a skilled and experienced New York construction accident lawyer today.
Construction accident victims suffer injuries of all types. Falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites, causing about one third of all construction accident fatalities.
Other common construction accident injuries include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Eye injuries, including blindness
- Broken bones
- Joint strains
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Respiratory issues
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
As above, this is just a partial list. No matter what kind of injury you sustained on a New York construction site, we want to hear from you and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
New York Workers’ Compensation and Labor Laws
Workers in the New York construction industry have several potential avenues for recovering compensation to help them pay for injuries caused by construction accidents.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Virtually all employers in New York State must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees against medical and disability-related costs stemming from a work-related injury or illness. Employers cannot force employees to pay for this insurance, which covers all employees who get injured in a construction accident, no matter who was at fault.
Workers’ compensation insurance in New York pays three principal benefits to injured workers and their families:
- Medical benefits cover all costs associated with seeking medical care for a work-related injury or illness. Workers must, however, only obtain medical care from a medical provider authorized by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. Speak with your doctor, employer, or an attorney to find out if your medical provider is authorized.
- Cash disability benefits pay an injured New York construction worker a portion of the worker’s weekly wages for any period of time lasting more than 7 days in which the worker cannot return to work because of a disability caused by the construction accident.
- Death benefits pay the surviving family of a construction worker killed in a construction accident a portion of that worker’s weekly wage, and also provide funds for funeral and burial expenses.
To obtain workers’ compensation benefits, New York construction workers injured in a job site accident must notify their employer of their injury right away (and no later than 30 days after the accident), seek medical care from an authorized provider, and file a claim for workers’ compensation insurance benefits.
It should be easy to file a claim and get all of the benefits the worker deserves, but that is not always how the system works. An experienced New York construction accident attorney can help injured workers prepare and pursue a workers’ compensation claim to make sure the worker receives every penny of benefits the worker needs.
New York’s Construction Accident Labor Laws
In New York, specific labor laws apply to construction workers injured in certain types of preventable construction-site incidents. These laws give workers potential additional legal rights to receive compensation separate-and-apart from their workers’ compensation benefits.
- Labor Law Section 200 requires construction site owners and others to provide reasonable and adequate protections to construction site workers, and allows construction site workers to hold owners liable if their injury was caused by a dangerous condition on a job site.
- Labor Law Section 240 (the “Scaffolding Law”) regulates scaffolding and gives construction workers injured in certain scaffolding-related incidents the ability to bring a claim for damages against a property owner, contractor, or other party responsible for having failed to follow safe scaffolding practices.
- Labor Law Section 241 requires owners and contractors to take certain safety measures on a construction site. If “reasonable and adequate” safeguards are not taken, workers injured as a result may sue for damages.
Not all New York construction accidents are covered under the three laws above. These laws, however, do enhance construction workers’ ability to seek compensation for injuries stemming from certain types of preventable incidents on a construction site. Speak with an experienced New York construction accident attorney to determine if your construction accident injury is covered by one of these laws.
Other Third Party Liability
With the (potential) exception of the three Labor Laws above, New York construction workers who receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits generally cannot sue their employers for damages resulting from a construction accident injury. Workers do, however, have potential rights to take legal action against third parties (someone other than their employers or co-workers) whose poor decisions or careless actions cause them injury on a construction site.
- An equipment manufacturer may have liability for supplying defective, unreasonably dangerous construction equipment that fails and causes a worker’s injury;
- A motorist may have liability for failing to take care while driving through a roadside construction zone;
- A contractor other than a construction worker’s own employer may have liability for making dangerous decisions or taking reckless actions on a job site.
Unlike suing an owner or contractor under one of the three Labor Laws above, taking legal action for compensation against a third party can affect a New York construction worker’s right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Speak with an experienced New York construction accident injury lawyer to learn about your rights.
How a New York Construction Accident Attorney Can Help
New York construction workers injured in preventable incidents on a job site often find they need help sorting through their options for obtaining compensation. An experienced New York construction accident lawyer can provide that guidance and support. Here are some of the ways a construction accident injury legal team can help its clients.
Investigating What Happened
Lawyers with experience representing clients injured in construction accidents have the know-how to pick through the facts and details to identify exactly what happened. That exercise can take on special significance for New York construction workers because it will help to determine whether they have rights under the Labor Laws above and/or to seek other compensation from a third party.
Pursuing Workers’ Compensation Benefits
No matter how a construction worker’s on-the-job injuries happen, the worker virtually always has the right to receive workers’ comp benefits. Obtaining all of the benefits the worker deserves, however, is not always as straightforward as the worker might expect. Employers and workers’ comp carriers sometimes deny claims, forcing the worker to pursue a review process overseen by the Workers’ Compensation Board—a process that can often prove confusing and frustrating for the worker. An attorney can help the worker navigate this process to make the strongest case possible for full benefits.
Pursuing Legal Claims
Construction workers may have the right to seek damages from property owners, contractors or others under New York Labor Laws and other legal principles. An experienced New York construction accident lawyer prepares, files, negotiates, and litigates those claims on behalf of the injured worker.
What to Do After a Construction Accident Injury
Getting injured in a construction accident can cause major disruptions in your life. Although every situation is different, following these tips can help you ensure that your rights stay protected.
Seek medical care. The single most important thing you can do to help yourself after sustaining a construction accident injury is to seek medical care right away, and to follow your doctor’s treatment plan until you have recovered to the maximum extent possible. Be sure to get care from a doctor authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board, so that your costs will be covered by workers’ comp. Not only does seeking appropriate medical care put you on the road back to health, it also generates important records of your treatment that will help to prove any legal claim you need to make.
Beware of unsolicited insurance settlement offers. If someone’s insurance company approaches you and offers you money as a settlement for your construction accident injuries, be careful. The only reason an insurer would offer money this way is if it hopes you will jump at the easy money and accept far less than you truly deserve to receive. Never, ever, agree to or sign anything without first speaking with an experienced New York construction accident lawyer.
Get legal help right away. As soon as possible, speak with an attorney who knows the ropes of New York construction accident cases, and who can help you protect your rights to compensation. Construction accident attorneys represent their clients on contingency (meaning they don’t get paid until you get paid in most circumstances) and generally offer free, confidential case evaluations to help you learn about your rights. In other words, you have nothing to lose by speaking with an experienced construction accident lawyer, and potentially lots to gain.