Queens Construction Accident Attorney
Queens is New York City’s largest borough by landmass and the second-most populous. Given its large size and population, it’s unsurprising that Queens has a large number of construction projects at any given time—and a large number of construction accidents, as well.
If you have sustained injuries in a construction accident, you have one or more pathways to recover losses related to your injuries. It’s best to consult with an experienced Queens construction accident attorney at Jacoby & Meyers LLP who can evaluate your case and advise you on the best path forward. Until you have a chance to discuss your construction accident injuries with a lawyer, the following answers to frequently asked questions about construction accidents in Queens may address some of your concerns.
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The New York Department of Labor reports that thousands of construction workers suffer on-the-job injuries each year. More than half of these injuries result in employees missing work, transferring jobs, or coping with restrictions. Construction sites are inherently dangerous, and workers are prone to certain types of accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers face injuries and fatalities from four types of construction accidents: (1) falls, (2) getting struck by an object, (3) electrocution, and (4) getting caught between objects.
Can I sue my employer after suffering injuries in a Queens construction accident?
Although some special circumstances might warrant a lawsuit against your employer after a construction accident, you typically cannot sue your employer to recover damages. Employers in New York and throughout the United States must carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to employees who sustain an injury or contract an illness at work. Workers’ compensation insurance protects employers from employee lawsuits, even if employer negligence leads to a workplace injury.
Some situations that could warrant a lawsuit against your employer include:
- Gross negligence by your employer that demonstrates a complete disregard for safety
- Failure to comply with the law and purchase mandatory workers’ compensation insurance
- Retaliation against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim
Your first step to receiving compensation for on-the-job construction accident injuries is to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance provider. If your claim is approved, you could receive payments towards medical expenses and lost wages from missing work.
Workers’ compensation pays for needed medical care, but only covers a portion of your lost wages. In New York, injured workers receive a maximum of two-thirds of their average weekly wage if they are completely disabled, leaving a significant household income gap for many families.
New York requires almost all employers with at least one employee to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Although exceptions exist, it’s unlikely that any company in or adjacent to the construction industry qualifies for one of those exceptions. Employers who do not carry workers’ comp are breaking the law, risk facing thousands of dollars in penalties and fines, and are responsible for directly paying all workers’ comp benefits to you.
Most importantly, you have the right to directly sue your employer for your injuries if they occurred from negligence. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation benefits, it’s important to build a strong case so that you recover maximum compensation. An experienced lawyer can help.
New York law permits you to take action against the responsible party to recover damages if your injuries occurred from negligence. You might name the landowner, developer, or contractor in a lawsuit. An experienced Queens construction accident attorney can review your construction accident and your injuries and determine if you have a viable claim. After investigating the facts of your case, your attorney can also advise you on the individuals or businesses that you should name as defendants in your lawsuit.
Can I bring a lawsuit against a third party for my Queens construction accident injuries if I also receive workers’ compensation benefits?
Yes, you can. In fact, if you have a claim against another party, taking legal action is a way to make up for only receiving part of your income through workers’ compensation benefits. Your attorney can evaluate your claim and identify potential third parties that might face liability for your injuries. In addition to the landowners and developers, companies that manufacture equipment, machinery, and safety gear could face liability if a defective product caused your injuries.
How does New York’s scaffolding law impact my Queens construction accident claim?
New York Labor Law 240, commonly referred to as the state’s scaffolding law, protects construction workers who fall or get struck by a falling object while working at a construction site. The law requires property owners and contractors to provide scaffolding and other safety equipment, such as hoists, ladders, ropes, and pulleys, to prevent workers from suffering construction accidents and injuries. Construction workers whose injuries fall under the scaffolding law can legally recover more compensation for damages than injuries that fall under ordinary negligence claims.
If you are an injured construction worker, the requirements that your accident and injuries must meet to fall under the scaffolding law include:
- You must have been working on a structure legally defined as a building, which is broadly categorized under New York law.
- If you worked on a single-family home or duplex, the scaffolding law does not apply unless owners took direct control of the construction project.
- You must have been performing specific tasks, including alterations, erection, demolition, painting, cleaning, or putting safety measures in place.
It’s best to consult an experienced Queens construction accident lawyer who can review the facts of your accident and let you know if you qualify to bring a lawsuit under New York’s scaffolding law.
You should immediately consult with an attorney if your claim for injury compensation is denied. Insurance companies do not like to pay claims, especially construction accident claims, because they often result in costly injuries. Legally, workers’ compensation, and any other type of insurance provider, must provide you a reason for denial.
Sometimes, these companies deny claims for filing a claim late or not filling out the right documents. Workers’ compensation providers are famous for denying claims when an injured worker has not seen an approved physician. You may also receive a denial because the provider argues that you have preexisting conditions not caused by your construction accident.
Regardless of the reason, you need a lawyer to help you appeal the decision. If your workers’ compensation claim was denied, you need to go through a special appeals process for approval. In other situations, filing a lawsuit may prove necessary. First, your lawyer will contact the insurance company to review the reasons for the denial. Sometimes, insurance providers do not take claimants seriously unless the injured parties have legal representation.
When you get a lawyer involved, you send the insurance carrier the message that you are happy to file a lawsuit if necessary. This can bring some carriers to the table for negotiations and motivates them to take your claim seriously. Contact the experienced legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, for a free evaluation and to discuss the details of your claim denial.
Recoverable damages from construction accidents vary widely based on the specific event that led to injuries, the scope of the injuries, and the severity of the injuries. If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, any compensation you receive in a settlement or jury award will only compensate you for things that workers’ compensation has not covered. Unfortunately, construction accidents often translate into severe, life-threatening, or catastrophic injuries.
If you settle your case or a court rules in your favor, you could receive compensation for:
- Medical treatment costs, including ambulance and emergency room treatment, surgery, hospitalization, x-rays, lab tests, and prescriptions
- Estimated future medical expenses for construction workers who suffer permanent injuries or conditions that require ongoing treatment or care
- Rehabilitation expenses for special therapies to help construction accident victims, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychotherapy
- Costs for assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers, and prosthetic devices
- Lost wages not covered by workers’ compensation
- Estimated future lost wages if you suffered catastrophic construction accident injuries that prevent you from returning to your job or work in the future
- Home renovation expenses, such as costs for constructing a wheelchair ramp, installing handrails, or building a living area on the main floor
- Costs for replacement household service, such as snow removal, lawn care, laundry, cooking, cleaning, childcare, and any other household tasks you can no longer do after the accident
- Physical suffering
- Mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse if applicable
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Exemplary damages, sometimes called punitive damages, in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm leading to your construction accident
Do I have to go to court to testify in my Queens construction accident case?
In Queens construction accident cases, settlement negotiations are expected. Litigation is expensive, so both sides have an incentive to avoid trial. However, construction accident cases are notoriously complex and often involve multiple defendants, sometimes making it difficult to agree on compensation.
Additionally, construction accident cases are typically high-value claims, especially those that fall under the scaffolding law, so the other side will likely not easily accept liability. Whether you go to trial really depends on the facts of your case. You may settle before it’s necessary to enter a courtroom, but you should prepare for the chance that your attorney will have to litigate your case.
If you have a viable claim and win your case, the amount of compensation that you ultimately receive hinges on various factors. It’s impossible to predict an exact financial outcome for your claim, but your construction accident lawyer can give you a ballpark range based on your specific circumstances.
Some things that affect how much money you could receive include:
- Liability. If you were partially to blame for your construction accident injuries, and the other side can prove it, you can still recover damages, but the court will likely reduce the final amount based on your percentage portion of fault.
- Severity of injuries. The more severe injuries you suffer, the higher value of your claim. Severe injuries come with higher medical expenses, more lost wages, and a greater impact on your life.
- Type of injuries. Certain types of injuries automatically lead to greater compensation. For example, someone who needs their leg amputated after a construction accident will usually get more money for their injury than someone who broke their leg.
- Long-term prognosis. If you are unlikely to make a full recovery, you will typically receive more money than a worker who heals completely from construction accident injuries. Similarly, those who suffer permanent injuries or conditions also typically receive more compensation, especially if they need ongoing treatment or have to move into a long-term nursing care facility.
- Insurance policy limits. Depending on the exact circumstances of your construction accident, the insurance policy limits of the defendant can impact the amount of money you receive. If you are suing a business, you could collect damages beyond policy limits. Collecting additional damages from an individual is far more challenging.
Can I afford a Queens construction accident attorney?
If you have sustained injuries in a Queens construction accident, and you are a construction worker, then your injuries have likely impacted your career and income in multiple ways. Attempting to handle a case without legal representation often proves more expensive than retaining an attorney due to lost potential compensation.
Fortunately, you can meet with an attorney to discuss your case during a free case evaluation, and you do not have to pay upfront. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and for your potential lawyer to review your claim and discuss the next steps.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we take all clients on contingency. We work to build the best case possible and fight to get our clients maximum compensation for their injuries. We deduct our attorney fees and other legal costs from any compensation that we successfully recover from an insurance settlement or jury verdict in your favor. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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