Manhattan Construction Accident Attorneys
There is no doubt that construction work can be dangerous. Workers perform difficult physical labor, sometimes at great heights or while using heavy machinery. That is why Manhattan construction workers who get injured or die in construction accidents deserve fair and just compensation for their injuries, medical bills, and lost wages.
If you are injured, while you are still struggling to deal with the trauma of the injury, you may also deal with questions and concerns about what the future holds. The Manhattan personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process and help you seek the compensation you need to recover.
Construction Accidents in New York City
The construction industry plays a vital role in the American economy. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, more than 7 million construction workers build about $1.3 trillion worth of structures each year across the country. In Manhattan, most of the construction currently takes place in the non-residential sector, such as office buildings, hotels, institutional buildings and big venues for sports and entertainment.
Construction sites are dangerous no matter where they are. However, Manhattan is in the midst of a building boom. That means there is a shortage of skilled construction laborers. Workers are undertaking large, ambitious projects and working under time pressure. Therefore, some laborers are overworked and some contractors are hiring workers who are less experienced and may be unfamiliar with the tasks or the equipment.
Work-related injuries affect about 1 in every 50 American construction workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 1,000 construction workers die in work-related incidents every year. Nationwide, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) reports that approximately one in five work-related fatalities in the country occur in the construction industry.
Construction is the deadliest industry in New York City, according to the state’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In general, the worker fatality rate in New York City is below the national average, but the city’s worker fatality rate among construction workers is higher than the national average. In just two recent years, construction workers were 5 percent of the city’s workforce, but accounted for 27 percent of work-related deaths.
A total of 137 construction workers were injured in New York City during the first trimester of 2019. Of the 137 injured workers, 90 of them were working at Manhattan construction sites. A 51-year-old worker in Manhattan was killed when a stone slab struck him in the head while he was working on scaffolding seven stories in the air.
Common Causes of Manhattan Construction Accidents
Most construction accidents are preventable. They are often caused by violations of important safety standards or simple negligence, often by the contractor, employer, or machine manufacturer. In fact, the New York City Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics determined that in New York City fatal construction accidents, 90 percent involved at least one critical safety violation.
The most common citations included violations of:
- Training requirements
- Fall protection standards
- Scaffold safety standards
- Stairway safety standards
- Ladder safety standards
In some cases, the employer knew of a hazardous condition and failed to correct it. A shocking 13 percent of those OSHA investigations revealed at least one willful violation of a critical safety standard, often for the sake of efficiency or profitability.
These willful safety violations included:
- Intentionally using malfunctioning or damaged equipment
- Intentionally disabling safety features on dangerous equipment
- Knowingly violating other safety standards
The Fatal Four Hazards
The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries found that someone who works in construction for 45 years has a 75 percent chance of suffering a serious injury. Worse, that worker has a 1 in 200 chance of being killed on the job. Research from The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that four hazards are overwhelmingly responsible for construction worker deaths.
These hazards, which are known as the fatal four, include:
- Falls. Frequently, construction workers while in high places, such as roofs, ladders, or scaffolding. The regulation requiring employers to provide fall protection systems is the most commonly violated safety regulation in the industry. Falls accounted for 39.2 percent of construction worker deaths in 2017 and can happen in all kinds of circumstances. At one Manhattan construction site, a construction worker fell down an elevator shaft at the intersection of W. 30th Street and Broadway in Midtown. One person died, and two others were injured.
- Being struck by an object. Construction workers are constantly at risk of being struck by objects. A worker may be injured due to unsecured tools, falling equipment, materials knocked off of a scaffolding, insufficient barricades, or a thousand other hazards.
- Electrocutions. Exposure to electricity is a major hazard to construction workers. Electrical powerline installers have the highest rate of fatal injuries in the construction industry at roughly 67 deaths per 100,000. Contact with electrical lines, transformers, converters, and other electrical hazards may expose a worker to burns, electrocution, shock arc flash, or explosions.
- Getting caught between equipment or objects. Another commonly violated safety and health regulation in the construction industry is the regulation requiring employers to provide machine “guards.” The purpose of safety guards is to prevent workers from inserting a body part, such as a hand or foot, into an operating machine.
Other common hazards include:
- Struck-by accidents. These occur when a worker is struck as a result of a force other than gravity. The worker may be struck by a vehicle, or hit by debris from a power tool or other objects.
- Falling objects. Workers are often laboring on different levels of a structure. Often, unsecured tools fall, pallet loads or building materials may fall, or even the structure itself may fall and injure a worker. It doesn’t have to be a large object to injure or kill a worker.
- Dangerous tools. Power tools or even hand tools can cause serious injuries.
- Confined space accidents. Construction workers often find themselves in tight spaces to perform their work functions. On a construction site, workers frequently must crawl into or out of confined spaces, like an underground crawlspace or manhole. OSHA requires employers to provide training, equipment, and proficient rescue services for permit-required spaces. Confined spaces can also result in injury from dangerous air conditions or structural collapses.
- Faulty equipment. Defective or improperly maintained equipment might result in serious, even catastrophic, injuries.
- Work vehicle accidents. All kinds of vehicles, such as trucks and heavy machinery, are in use at a construction site. Workers may be operating a dangerous piece of machinery or in the path of a moving vehicle.
- Unstable surfaces. Collapsing buildings, walls, and other unstable surfaces are a danger for workers.
- Improper storage, loading, and unloading. Workers must be trained in how to safely move heavy loads.
- Chemical exposure risks. In addition to asbestos and lead, solvents, acids, combustible materials, carbon monoxide, industrial cleaners, pesticides, and paints can injure workers.
Common Types of Injuries
Construction accidents happen every day. Injuries may be minor, or they may be catastrophic or even fatal. Injuries may be caused by faulty equipment, inadequate training, or the negligence of others. Common injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Respiratory disease
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Many state and federal regulations govern the construction industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates federal worker safety laws. Employers have a duty to train workers and follow OSHA standards. OSHA inspections assess compliance. Despite these precautions, OSHA violations frequently occur in construction areas. Nationwide, the most common violations include inadequate fall protection, failure to provide PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), and improper training,
In addition, New York has enacted laws for the protection of construction workers. There are three primary laws. The first requires that owners and contractors alike take reasonable precautions to ensure a safe work environment, and to protect workers from foreseeable harm. The law requires all worksites to be “constructed, equipped, arranged, operated, and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health, and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.”
The second is commonly known as the Scaffold Law, which may apply when a worker is injured in a fall or struck by a falling object.
The third deals with making a construction, excavation, or demolition worksite safe for workers. Violations of these laws do not supplant workers’ compensation law.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Construction plays a vital role in Manhattan’s economy and the day-to-day life of New Yorkers. The City rises, falls, and rises again thanks to its construction industry, which renews buildings and neighborhoods and keeps thousands employed.
Unfortunately, construction in Manhattan can also pose considerable dangers to both workers and the general public, especially when the construction companies fail to follow OSHA worksite safety regulations. Construction accidents can cause life-altering injuries and tragic deaths.
Below we answer some of the most common questions we receive about Manhattan construction accidents. To learn about your rights after a construction accident injury, contact an experienced attorney right away.
How do injuries occur most often on construction sites?
Construction sites can feature many hazards. Following safety regulations should protect both workers and visitors to those sites, but preventable, injury-causing incidents still occur, including:
- Falls from heights, in which New York’s Scaffold Law may come into play;
- Equipment malfunctions;
- Items falling from heights;
- Electrocution; and
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals and materials.
A wide range of injuries may occur on construction sites: traumatic brain injury, electrical burns, chemical burns, crushing damage that results in broken bones, and severe cuts and lacerations, even amputations. Victims who fall from heights may suffer spinal cord damage. These injuries can change the victims’ lives, sometimes permanently. All of these injuries could also prove fatal.
Who Is Responsible in a Construction Accident?
Construction accidents are very complex and there may be several parties who may be liable for the injuries. Your construction accident lawyer can help identify all liable parties because they may have different insurance coverage available to help provide compensation for your losses.
The obvious party may be your employer, or the construction company, although liability doesn not typically enter into a workers’ comp claim.
But perhaps another person caused or contributed to your injury or a manufacturer made a faulty piece of equipment. Your construction accident lawyer can help you identify all responsible parties.
These may include:
- Contractors and subcontractors.
- Construction managers. Their duties usually include monitoring schedules, finances, and generally supervising projects. They may have liability depending on the amount of their control over both the workers and the worksite.
- Property owners.
- Equipment manufacturers. If a construction injury was caused by defectively produced equipment, the party that manufactured the equipment or its components might be liable.
What four steps should I take if I suffer an injury on a construction site?
The steps you take after your construction site injury can affect your legal rights to receive compensation. Taking the following four steps can help to protect your health and to preserve your legal options.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Any time an accident occurs on a construction site, seek medical attention. Do not try to treat an injury yourself, and do not try to power through the pain. Additionally, if you suffer a blow to your head in a fall (or if something falls on you), then seek medical attention even if you think you feel fine. Blows to the head can cause traumatic brain injury, which may not show symptoms right away but could develop into a life-threatening condition if not addressed quickly. Finally, keep in mind that seeking medical attention does not just protect your health; it also creates important medical records that you may need when it comes time to seek compensation for your injury.
- Report the accident promptly. No matter if an injury seems minor, report it to your boss or whomever is in charge at the construction site. Do not continue working or plan to report the accident later, since this could interfere with your ability to receive the compensation you deserve. (Also, reporting the accident makes it more likely you will seek medical care, which, as we’ve said, is also critically important.)
- Document the accident scene, if possible. Do not put yourself in danger or increase your risk of further injury. However, if you can do so safely, take some pictures of where the accident happened and the equipment (if any) involved. Take note of anyone who saw the accident happen, and if need be, get their contact information.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced Manhattan construction accident attorney can give you a free case evaluation to determine whether you may have a legal claim against someone for your injuries. Do not wait to seek legal advice. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better your overall chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
If I was working on the construction site at the time of my injury, does it affect the compensation I can receive?
In most cases, yes. Manhattan construction workers, in nearly all circumstances, are covered by workers’ compensation insurance (or workers’ comp, for short). Workers’ comp pays a worker’s medical and disability-related expenses resulting from a workplace injury, no matter who was at fault for the injury. That’s right: In most cases, even if you made a mistake that led to your own injury, workers’ comp covers you.
Workers’ compensation for Manhattan construction workers provides the following benefits:
- Payment for your medical bills. Construction workers and other workers who suffer injuries in a Manhattan construction accident can rely on workers’ comp to pay all medical bills associated with the injury.
- Temporary disability. Your lost wages can add up quickly when you cannot work due to serious construction site injuries. Workers’ compensation pays workers 2/3 of their weekly income for injuries that keep them out of work for at least 7 days.
- Permanent disability. Sometimes, construction site injuries leave workers permanently disabled and they cannot return to work. Workers’ compensation provides income-replacement benefits to these workers as well.
To receive workers’ compensation benefits, workers must follow procedures established under state law. To learn about the New York workers’ compensation claim process, click here.
Injured Manhattan construction workers generally may collect the workers’ comp insurance paid for by your employer that covers nearly all worksite injuries. You won’t need to prove negligence on the part of your employer, but in return your employer does not have a legal liability to you for some damages, like pain and suffering.
However, that rule has some exceptions. New York labor laws specific to construction sites may give workers the ability to take legal action seeking damages from their employers for injuries resulting from some worksite conditions. The Scaffold Law gives additional rights to workers who fall from heights. Other contractors and property owners may also have a liability to injured workers under these laws. In addition, injured Manhattan construction workers may also have the right to seek compensation from third parties whose actions caused their injuries, in some cases.
Filing a lawsuit for damages after a Manhattan construction accident injury can affect your benefits under workers’ comp.
Moreover, workers’ comp insurance companies are like all other insurance companies—they want to delay, deny, and reduce as many claims as possible.
To learn about your rights as a worker injured on a Manhattan construction site, contact an experienced construction accident injury attorney right away.
Who bears liability for injuries that occur on a construction site?
As we have explained, workers’ comp insurance often serves as the primary source of compensation for injured construction workers. However, workers may also have rights against other third parties, and, of course, not everyone who gets hurt on a construction site is working there. Here are some of the individuals and entities who may have a legal liability for injuries someone suffers on a Manhattan construction site:
- The owner of the site. The owner of the property where construction takes place may have obligations to prevent or warn about dangerous conditions that could harm a worker or visitor. Failing to take these precautions can make the site owner liable to anyone who sustains an injury there.
- The general contractor managing the site. The general contractor responsible for managing the work on a Manhattan construction site may have a legal liability for any accidents and resulting injuries there. The general contractor must ensure that safety regulations get followed and that workers take necessary precautions to keep themselves, each other, and the public safe.
- Subcontractors working on the site. General contractors often bring in subcontractors to handle specific details on the job site, such as electrical work. The subcontractor may have a legal liability for any accidents caused by its or its employees’ negligence or errors.
- Construction equipment manufacturers. Construction workers use heavy equipment every day. That equipment, if defective, can malfunction and cause serious harm, even death. A manufacturer of construction equipment has a legal duty to ensure the safety and quality of its products. If a piece of equipment leaves the factor in an unreasonably dangerous condition, then any injuries it causes while being used as intended may impose liability on the manufacturer.
Do I have to have an attorney to file a claim after an accident at a construction site?
In most cases, yes. Workers certainly can choose to file a workers’ comp claim on their own, and for relatively minor injuries that usually works out fine. However, anyone suffers a serious injury on a Manhattan construction site—whether as a worker or a visitor—will likely benefit from speaking with an experienced Manhattan construction accident injury attorney right away.
The many important services a lawyer can provide after a Manhattan construction site accident may include:
- Helping to prepare and pursue a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney can help collect and present the evidence to support your workers’ compensation claim, to make sure you receive all of the benefits you deserve. If your employer or its insurance company denies your workers’ comp claim, an attorney can also represent you in the process of appealing that claim denial.
- Identifying parties who may have a legal liability to you. Attorneys investigate Manhattan construction accidents to determine whose unsafe actions or poor decisions caused them, and who should have a legal liability to pay for the injuries the accidents cause. Sometimes, what may seem like a simple accident caused by one worker’s negligence, for example, may in fact result from a series of dangerous decisions made by multiple parties. Holding those parties accountable can result in a higher amount of recovery for the injured accident victim.
- Negotiating settlements with liable parties. Experienced Manhattan construction accident injury attorneys have the resources and experience to face-off against large insurance companies, powerful developers, and expensive defense lawyers in pursuit of fair and reasonable compensation for injured construction accident victims. The attorney’s goal is to achieve a settlement that pays the maximum amount available, so that victims have the financial support they need to heal and move forward with their lives.
- Taking construction accident cases to court. Not every Manhattan construction accident injury matter ends in a negotiated settlement, however. Sometimes an attorney will advise an injured client that the best court of action is to take a case to trial, to ask a Manhattan judge and jury to decide the amount of damages the client should receive. Strong trial attorneys also make for strong negotiators, because the other side knows that when the victim’s attorney says “I’ll see you in court,” it’s for real.
This is just a sampling of the services an experienced Manhattan construction accident injury attorney can provide. Every case is different, and what works in one case may not represent the right approach to a different one. To learn about what steps you might need to take to receive the full measure of compensation you deserve for your injuries, speak with an attorney today.
How long will it take to resolve my construction accident claim?
To begin, keep in mind that there are no guarantees. Every claim related to a construction accident injury has its own facts and circumstances that will influence its outcome. So, the answers below represent general guidelines only.
If workers’ comp covers your injuries in a Manhattan construction accident, then the doctor will typically bill the workers’ compensation insurance company directly. Assuming the carrier approves your workers’ comp claim, you should also begin receiving any disability benefits within 18 days of filing your claim. (Obviously, that could take longer if the claim gets denied and you have to appeal the claim.)
In terms of receiving compensation from a source other than workers’ comp, the timeline can vary significantly from case-to-case. We have represented clients whose construction accident injury claims settle quickly, and others that took longer.
The length of a case depends on the amount of money at stake, the degree of dispute about what happened or who has a legal liability, and number of parties involved, and the willingness of those parties to try to come to an agreement instead of dragging a fight out in court.
If an incident on a Manhattan construction site has caused you serious injury or a tragic loss, do not wait to take steps to protect your wellbeing and your legal rights. You have no time to lose, and everything to gain. Contact an experienced, knowledgeable Manhattan construction accident injury attorney right away for a free case evaluation.
Workers’ Compensation or Construction Accident Victims Benefits?
For almost all construction accidents in which workers are injured, workers’ compensation benefits are an important (and usually primary) source of compensation.
If workers’ compensation covers your injury, you should be automatically qualify for benefits, regardless of the party responsible for the workplace injury.
Workers’ compensation provides the following benefits to workplace injury victims:
- Medical care. All necessary medical costs stemming from the injury must be covered in full, regardless of how long the injury or complications last. The treating physician must also be previously authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
- Wage replacement. Injured workers may receive a proportion of their former average weekly income during the time they are recovering from their injuries.
- Disability benefits. Claimants, whether totally or partially disabled, may collect up to two-thirds their previous average weekly income until they can return to work. If employees can only return to work in a limited capacity, they may receive payment for the difference in their earning capacity.
- Death benefits. If an employee dies from an injury received at work, surviving spouses and children are also eligible for death benefits. Survivors may receive weekly payments of two-thirds of the deceased worker’s previous average weekly income.
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation covers work injuries suffered by an employee during work. New York, like most states, also covers diseases that a worker might contract during the course of employment.
Unlike employees, independent contractors, freelancers, or consultants are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you were injured at work and believe you have been incorrectly classified as an independent contractor, you should consult an attorney. Although some organizations provide workers’ compensation insurance for volunteers, volunteers generally are not covered.
To be eligible, you must have been injured while at work while performing job-related duties. Your injury must have occurred at the worksite or while performing work duties related to your job.
What Happens if You’re Injured in a Construction Accident?
Construction accidents are complicated because they touch on worker’s compensation, personal injury, premises liability, and product liability laws. Generally, under New York workers’ compensation law, injured workers cannot sue their employers, and workers’ comp limits the damages they can recover—but you’ll still want a lawyer to ensure the workers’ comp insurance company pays you what you are fully entitled to. Injured workers, however, may have an opportunity to sue third parties that contributed to their injuries.
You’ll want to review your accident with us to see what options you can pursue.
When You Need a Manhattan Construction Accident Lawyer, Call on Us
No matter what type of legal action you take, you will face specific deadlines for filing claims, so take prompt action. If you or someone you love were injured in a Manhattan construction accident, speak with our experienced Manhattan construction accident lawyers. We’ve recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, and want to see whether we can help you, too.
Our firm also benefits from a sister relationship with a law firm that focuses on recovering workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits. You can learn more about them and their more than 50 years of experience at https://www.foalaw.com/.
If you’re an injured worker, you can see how our partnership can help you fight for the coverage you need.
For a free case evaluation, begin a live chat with us, call the Manhattan office of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, at (212) 445-7000, or contact us online.