Brooklyn Construction Accident Attorneys
Brooklyn is a real estate-centric borough. It seems like every time you turn around, a new building or high rise is going up. In Brooklyn, we tend to become accustomed to the ongoing construction—so much, in fact, that we sometimes fail to recognize the dangers around us.
Construction sites contain hazards for everyone, but they are especially dangerous for construction workers who spend their days there. If you or a loved one were hurt at a Brooklyn construction site, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact the Brooklyn personal injury lawyers at Jacoby and Meyers, LLP, for a free case evaluation.
How Dangerous Are Construction Jobs?
The construction industry is a vital part of the U.S. economy. The labor of construction workers impacts every facet of our lives: from the quality of the buildings where we live and work to the safety of the streets where we drive.
We rarely stop to consider that construction workers put their lives at risk every day when they go to work. Statistics show construction one of the most dangerous industries in the United States:
- According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the construction industry consists of over 680,000 employers, with over 7 million workers nationwide.
- One in every five workplace deaths involves a worker in the construction industry.
- Over one-third of all construction deaths result from a fall.
Where Do Construction Accidents Happen?
When you think about a construction site, images of large equipment and scaffolding likely come to mind. But construction sites do not just exist on city blocks. They are everywhere we turn. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 849,570 Americans worked as construction laborers in one recent year. An additional 227,460 held the title of construction manager, with carpenters, electricians, and operating engineers accounting for 611,070, 503,660, and 245,320 workers respectively.
With so many workers employed in construction, accidents happen in virtually every conceivable setting:
- City buildings: In one recent year, Brooklyn had more active construction projects than any other borough of New York City. At the time there were 2,800 active permits on file. The largest project was a 3.9 million square foot skyscraper. Working on city buildings comes with particular risks. Not only must workers do their jobs at extreme heights, they must also contend with limited space and numerous distractions, which can make it difficult for workers to get their job done safely.
- Roadways: Millions of people drive through road construction every day. It’s easy to take for granted just how dangerous roadway construction is for workers. Traffic workers must fight inclement weather, limited space, and oncoming traffic. Repair work on bridges, traffic lights, or in areas of high traffic leave workers particularly vulnerable to injury.
- Homes and offices: New home builds, repairs, and renovations make up a good portion of the construction industry. While these jobs may be more secluded and provide more space, they provide different challenges. Workers are usually unfamiliar with the area they are working with and may not be aware of hidden dangers. Additionally, homeowners may put added pressure on workers to complete a job quickly.
- Manufacturing facilities: The manufacturing industry is growing, as is the demand for new buildings. In addition to the normal hazards, workers have to install heavy, and often dangerous, equipment.
How Do Accidents Happen?
Construction jobs come with a wide variety of inherent dangers, but there are some aspects of the job that are notoriously risky. In construction, there are four types of accidents that happen more than any other. These accidents are commonly referred to as the “fatal four.” Incidents involving the fatal four account for 57 percent of all construction fatalities and consist of:
Falls are the most common cause of fatality at construction sites. Construction workers often have to climb to extreme heights. For a one-story house, this may be 11 or 12 feet. But for larger buildings like office buildings and apartment complexes, heights can reach hundreds of feet. At these heights, workers must use proper fall protection devices. Falls from lower heights can cause broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries, while falls from higher heights will usually result in death.
Struck by Object
Construction sites are noisy, dirty, and crowded. Workers often struggle to stay alert for dangers. Struck by object injuries happen when a person gets hit by an object that falls or swings. This may include large objects like beams or wrecking balls, or a worker may become injured when a smaller object such as a hand tool falls from above.
Specialized contractors often handle discrete aspects of a construction project simultaneously, which means even if they understand all of the risks involved in their particular jobs, others on the construction site may not. Electrical work, especially, puts workers at risk. If a wire is not properly labeled, not turned off, or exposed, an unsuspecting worker can come in contact with it and sustain a severe electrical injury. Electrocutions contribute to 9 percent of construction site fatalities. Injuries may include burns, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or organ damage.
Caught Between Objects
Caught between objects accounts for 2 percent of construction fatalities. These injuries happen when a person or body part becomes pinned between two or more objects, such as a piece of machinery and a building or a moving tool. The type of injury will depend on the location of the injury at the objects involved. Usually, caught in between incidents involve crush injuries, resulting in broken bones, lacerations, and amputations.
Five Reasons for Brooklyn Construction Accidents
The dangers on construction sites are well-known. So, why do construction accidents happen? For the most part, the answer is “human error,” especially:
- Poor training: Workers need to understand how to stay safe on the job. Their employers have a special responsibility to train them in safety practices and techniques on construction sites. Poor or inadequate safety training, unfortunately, puts everyone on a job site at risk of severe injury.
- Lack of or improper safety devices: Large volumes of regulations dictate the nature and type of safety equipment that workers should always use on a job site. Inadequate or broken safety equipment often puts workers’ lives in danger.
- Unsafe conditions: Rain, fog, snow, and excessive heat can all make for dangerous work conditions. When workers work in unsafe conditions, they risk accidents and injury.
- Defective construction materials and equipment: The raw materials workers use to lay foundations and to frame out a building, as well as the tools they use to work with those materials, should not put them at risk. Unfortunately, materials and equipment sometimes hide dangerous defects that cause accidents and injuries.
- Heavy workloads: Exhaustion can lead to poor decision making and lack of concentration on a construction site; factors that often lead to catastrophic accidents and injuries.
Five Common Construction Site Injuries
As we noted above, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, one out of every five workplace fatalities in 2018 occurred in the construction industry. The industry also has 71 percent more non-fatal injuries than any other industry. Common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain sustains damage from a blow or penetrating head injury. TBIs display a wide variety of symptoms, all of which can prove debilitating. A so-called “mild” TBI (a.k.a., “concussion”) can leave a victim with chronic fatigue, headaches, and “brain fog.” More severe TBIs can cause lasting motor, cognitive, and emotional impairments. In the worst cases, TBI results in a permanent loss of consciousness.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries happen when the spinal cord sustains severe trauma, often from a violent fall. These injuries often result in paralysis and require lifelong treatment.
- Burns: Burns can happen as the result of contact with a hot surface, electrocution, or exposure to chemicals (among other causes). They can cause excruciating pain and leave victims with permanent scars. Severe burns pose an extreme risk of infection and can cause nerve damage and physical disabilities.
- Lacerations and contusions: Unfortunately, cuts, scrapes, and bruises happen frequently on a job site. While most injuries are minor, if they are not treated, they can cause infection. You should always have a doctor examine any deep cuts as they may involve nerve damage and may risk getting infected.
- Strains: Any worker who does heavy lifting is at risk of a strain injury. Strains happen when you overextend your ligaments or tendons. To prevent strains on the job, practice proper lifting and always use safety equipment.
Making a Workers’ Comp Claim After an Accident
Most workplace injuries differ from other preventable injuries when it comes to pursuing compensation. New York law requires virtually all employers—including employers in the construction industry—to carry workers’ compensation insurance protecting their employees against medical and disability costs resulting from a workplace injury or illness.
Workers’ compensation insurance pays benefits to injured workers regardless of who is at fault for an injury. It includes:
- Medical benefits: Workers’ comp pays for all medical treatment necessary to diagnose and treat a workplace injury. Except in emergencies, workers must receive care from a provider who is approved by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, and (potentially) by their employer.
- Disability benefits: When a worker is temporarily or permanently unable to return to work, workers’ compensation benefits can help make up lost wages. Time-loss benefits pay two-thirds of your average weekly wage, multiplied by the degree of a construction worker’s disability.
- Death benefits: Workers’ compensation entities families of construction workers who sustain a fatal injury on the job to payments that replace some of the deceased worker’s income, as well as a lump sum payment for funeral and burial expenses.
Workers’ compensation insurance comes with a trade-off, however. By providing insurance for their employees, employers free themselves of any other legal liability to their workers in most cases. In other words, most construction workers injured on a job site cannot sue their employer for damages, even if the employer’s unsafe practices caused an injury.
Workers’ compensation in New York does not, however, limit an injured construction worker’s rights to sue a “third party” (i.e., someone other than an employer or co-worker) for damages arising from a construction site injury. “Third parties” with potential liability for harming a construction worker could include:
- A property owner: If the injury occurs on private property, the property owner may face legal liability for having failed to remedy an unsafe condition that led to a worker’s injury.
- A contractor: Construction sites often host multiple contractors who coordinate their efforts, but do not share employees. Construction workers injured by the careless or reckless actions of an employee of a different contractor may have rights against that contractor for damages.
- Materials and equipment manufacturers: Construction workers should not sustain injuries because of defective construction materials or equipment. The manufacturer of defective material or equipment that leaves a construction worker injured may face legal liability.
Speaking with an experienced construction accident injury attorney is the best way to assess your rights after a construction accident leaves you battered and bruised—or worse.
“Great experience with skilled legal individuals that know what they are doing.” -Nesha G.
Injured on a Brooklyn Construction Site? Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP
A construction accident can be a life-changing event. You should not have to figure out how to find medical care and cover the costs on your own. If a construction site accident leaves you injured, you deserve fair and just compensation.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we fight for construction accident victims. Almost 50 years of experience, we have helped numerous clients move on from injuries and losses they sustained on construction sites. When needed, Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can also call upon our sister firm and its half-century of experience for help. That firm’s focus on workers’ comp and Social Security disability cases can give us a significant advantage when we’re fighting for the benefits you need. They’re online at https://www.foalaw.com/.
To learn more about your legal rights and what to do after a construction accident, contact the office of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. Our Brooklyn office is located at 8701 Third Avenue, Suite 2A Brooklyn, NY 1120. Contact us, start a live chat, or call us at (877) 565-2993 today for a free case evaluation.