Get Help From a Skilled New York Construction Accident Lawyer
Far too many people are injured every year in the state of New York, and construction sites can be particularly dangerous places. When you work in the construction industry, you are placing yourself in harm’s way to build your state. New York City owes its skyline to the men and women working on job sites every day, and Parker Waichman LLP works hard to protect these workers when they are put in dangerous situations. The judicial system can be a powerful instrument for change, and a New York construction accident attorney with Parker Waichman can help people use the courts to seek recourse.
Our personal injury law firm has a long history of helping victims of construction accidents, and we have secured significant results for our clients: Parker Waichman is one of only a few firms to have garnered more than $2 billion in settlements and verdicts. If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, you deserve representation from one of the top personal injury firms in the nation. Contact us today to speak with a NYC construction accident lawyer for free with no obligation.
New York Construction Accident Statistics
Annual construction injury and fatality numbers are disheartening. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently released a report in which it described the New York construction industry as “highly dangerous” for workers. In New York, construction workers are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal workplace accident than those in any other industry. Construction workers make up only three percent of the total state workforce, but are involved in 34 percent of the state’s work-related fatalities. This figure has been climbing for years.
Between 2011 and 2015, the construction fatality rate in New York increased 40 percent. The largest percentage of construction fatalities is concentrated in New York City, but the entire state appears to have unsafe environments for construction workers. In 2015, the state saw a major spurt of construction-related incidents, jumping from 231 injuries or fatalities in 2014 to 435 in 2015, an 88 percent increase during a single year. That same year, 55 construction workers were fatally injured in the state of New York. In litigating construction accident cases through the years, we have seen that a significant portion of these injuries and fatalities are preventable with appropriate safety precautions.
Parker Waichman has come to understand that project owners and contractors often fail to do what’s required to keep workers safe. They fail to provide proper training and safe equipment to their workers, presumably to save time and money. As a consequence, they not only violate state and federal laws, but they also expose workers to serious danger. Project owners and contractors need to realize that people are more important than profits. The workers on their sites are not disposable and their lives are not just the cost of doing business. Parker Waichman is fighting to hold the industry accountable and seek justice on behalf of injured workers.
Dangers Facing Construction Workers
Construction workers are at risk of numerous accidents because of the nature of the work they perform. Accidents are likely if proper steps are not taken, and those accidents can have severe consequences.
The “Fatal Four”
The most pervasive types of accidents, known as the “Fatal Four,” cause the most fatalities in the construction industry today. They are responsible for about 77 percent of all construction-related fatalities in New York City and about 87 percent of all construction fatalities in New York state.
- Falls: Nationwide, falls are by far the leading cause of fatalities in construction. Falls account for approximately half of all construction-related fatalities in New York State. This includes falls from scaffolding, ladders, equipment, stairs, walkways, roofs or other heights on a construction site. Workers who fall on a construction site, especially from a height, can suffer broken or dislocated bones, head or neck traumas, internal bleeding or death.
- Electrocution: Construction sites almost always involve electrical wiring. When this wiring is unfinished and exposed, it poses a risk of electrocution to workers. Electric shock can lead to burns, nerve injuries, visual and hearing disturbances, cardiac events, and death. Some workers overcoming electric shock experience lingering side effects like insomnia, anxiety or depression.
- Entrapment Involving Equipment/Machinery: Workers on job sites are continuously running heavy equipment and using heavy machinery. When proper precautions are not taken, workers can become pinned in/under or caught on the equipment or machine. When this occurs, a worker can suffer amputation of digits or limbs, broken bones, internal injury, head trauma or death.
- Struck by an Object: Equipment is running and debris flies on a construction site. Workers around the activity are often struck with falling debris, such as discarded or precariously placed materials, tools or beams. This can result in trauma to all parts of the body, but especially the head. Concussions and other head/neck trauma can lead to serious side effects, including brain damage, paralysis or death.
Additional Construction Dangers
In addition to the “Fatal Four,” construction workers are at risk for the following types of accidents and injuries:
- Elevator or Stair Accidents: Job sites will often employ temporary or unfinished stairs, ladders, and elevators to allow workers to move between floors. Without safe implementation, construction workers can fall or be injured in a collapse. This will often cause broken bones, organ injury, head and neck trauma or death.
- Trench Cave-ins or Collapses: Trenches are frequently part of construction. At a certain level, deep trenches need to be reinforced. If they are not reinforced or dug properly, workers are at risk of being buried in a cave-in or collapse of the trench. Most workers will not survive such an incident, and many will suffer serious bodily injury, including broken bones and organ damage.
- Fires or Explosions: Gas lines, gas leaks, unfinished electrical systems, exposed wiring, and sparks from tools or equipment all pose fire risks on a construction site. It doesn’t take much for a fire to get out of control or an explosion to occur. Workers caught in a fire or explosion can suffer severe burns, hearing or vision damage or death.
- Struck by Equipment or Vehicles: The typical commotion on a job site and the size of equipment and vehicles used makes workers vulnerable to being hit. When workers are hit by equipment or vehicles, they can suffer broken bones, head trauma, internal injury or death.
- Slips and Falls: Slip and fall accidents often occur on construction sites when appropriate safety measures are not followed. Workers can stumble on any number of objects or hazards. If the slip occurs at a height, the worker is at a much greater risk of severe injury.
- Exhaustion or Overextension: Workers can become overly fatigued or even suffer heat stroke when they spend too much time working outdoors. Workers who are forced to work through breaks are at risk of many physical side effects associated with exhaustion. In addition, they are more likely to make mistakes that can result in harm to themselves or someone else. Studies show that wage and hour violators also tend to be health and safety violators. Project owners and contractors who overwork and underpay their workers are statistically more likely to commit Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations.
Because so many of these tragic accidents occur as a result of improper safety and management on job sites, New York has enacted laws to try to keep workers safe. These laws hold owners and contractors responsible for worker safety and give workers a legal cause of action when they are injured.
New York Construction Injuries and Your Legal Rights
When people think about someone injured on the job, they usually consider workers’ compensation as the first option for legal recovery. Some people might think it’s the only option available. It’s true that workers’ compensation claims can often provide relief for people injured while working on a construction site, but the compensation available through this type of claim may not be enough. Injured construction workers frequently can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the project owner, contractor or manager by contacting a construction accident lawyer.
New York construction workers have a variety of laws in place to protect them. On every job site in New York, the owner and contractor have a duty to maintain a safe environment for workers. The state has three laws in particular, New York Labor Law §200, §240, and §241, that outline the legal duties of owners and contractors and provide workers with opportunities for legal recourse if they are injured because of unsafe or inadequate job site conditions.
These claims are all based on the concept of negligence, so it’s helpful to first understand the basic elements of negligence cases that will apply to labor law claims in the state.
Proving a Negligence Case in Court
A successful negligence claim must be able to prove four things in a New York court of law:
- The defendant had an obligation or duty to use reasonable care in the particular situation.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The victim suffered harm.
- The harm was caused by the defendant’s negligent conduct.
We use what is called a “standard of reasonable care” as we prove that the defendant owed our client a duty. By examining the circumstances of the case, the court will determine whether the defendant was under an obligation to use reasonable care. On a construction site, the project owner, manager or contractor owes site workers a duty to use reasonable care to prevent the workers from being harmed. Because this is set out in legal statutes, it’s not difficult to establish in a construction accident case. A potential issue might be determining what position or authority a potential defendant had at the time of the accident.
If a defendant breaches their duty, this person failed to use the level of care that a reasonable person would have used under the same or similar circumstances. The court will focus on alternate conduct, which is how the defendant acted versus how the defendant should have acted. The court will then make a determination about whether the defendant breached their duty of care. If the court finds that a breach of duty of care occurred, the defendant is legally negligent.
Sometimes, plaintiffs can take advantage of the theory of “strict liability.” If you establish that the defendant violated New York’s labor laws, for instance, you have automatically established negligence and you no longer need to prove that the defendant had a duty to use reasonable care or that this duty was breached.
After proving the presence of negligence on the part of the defendant, the next step is to show the court that our client suffered some kind of injury, physically, mentally or financially, and that this injury occurred because of the defendant’s negligence. If we cannot tie the injury back to an action or omission on the part of the defendant, we will not be successful in court.
When bringing a construction accident case, an experienced New York City construction accident attorney will apply these principles to your claims. New York’s labor laws provide specific protections for injured workers, including some forms of strict liability.
New York Labor Laws
New York’s labor laws have three statutes that set out specific liabilities and protections for construction workers. Each of these statutes contains different information and provides for a different kind of claim. To navigate these technicalities, it’s important to consult with a top construction accident attorney. New York clients can rest assured that they’ll find the best legal help with our firm.
New York Labor Law §200 places an express duty upon project owners, managers, and contractors to use reasonable care to adequately protect the lives, health, and safety of everyone working on their sites.
Before prevailing on a §200 claim, you must prove that the defendant “had actual or constructive notice of the condition” that caused your injury and also had the authority to change or manage the condition. If you are successful with this kind of claim, your damages can still be reduced if it’s decided that you were at fault for your own injury. The court will consider what is called your comparative fault to see if you were at all to blame in causing your own injury and will adjust any award accordingly.
New York Labor Law §240, often referred to as the Scaffold Law, mandates that construction site owners, contractors, and their agents provide at every construction site things like scaffolding, hoists, ladders, braces, and ropes. Because so many construction workers are injured in falls, this statute requires sites to supply equipment and materials that will help them move and work safely throughout the site.
Under §240, you do not have to prove the existence of a duty or the breach of that duty. In addition, your own potential fault will not be admissible in your case. However, if adequate instruments were available on the site and you did not use them, you cannot bring an action for damages under this law. It was designed to protect workers who were not provided appropriate safety tools, not so-called recalcitrant workers.
New York Labor Law §241 requires sites to follow certain rules regarding floor beams, elevators, and hoisting apparatuses to ensure worker safety. A worker who is injured because of an unsafe condition in one of these instruments could bring a claim. In addition, §241 allows workers to sue contractors and owners for the negligence of subcontractors and their agents. This means if you are injured because of a failure by a subcontractor or agent on site, you can sue the project owner or general contractor. This is a legal concept known as vicarious liability.
Under §241, the plaintiff can recover damages under strict liability if they prove the defendant violated the Industrial Code. But unlike an action under §240, a §241 case will involve consideration of the plaintiff’s own fault.
In any construction law case, you need an attorney who understands the law and knows how to achieve a favorable result. Construction law is extremely complex, but when you work with a New York construction accident lawyer at Parker Waichman, you’ll be working with an experienced attorney who will fight hard for your legal rights. We recognize that your injuries have taken a severe toll on your life, and we want to secure the best result possible to help you move forward.
The New York Construction Accident Statute of Limitations
Before filing your New York construction accident case, you must make sure your claim has not expired according to the state’s statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a state-imposed time restriction on filing a case. If you do not file within that time window, you will never be able to file your case in court.
Generally, New York has a three-year statute of limitations on personal injury construction accident claims. However, it can be difficult to determine when the clock began running, which is why it’s so important to work with an experienced construction accident lawyer who knows the intricacies of New York construction law. When you choose Parker Waichman to handle your case, we’ll calculate your statute of limitations to make sure you have enough time to file your claim.
Trust Your Case to a Top
NYC Construction Accident Lawyer
Parker Waichman LLP has extensive construction law experience, and we are prepared to advocate for your legal rights. If you were or a loved one was injured in a construction, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by filling out our online form or by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
How Do I Get My Police Report in Manhattan?
Immediately after an arrest or accident has taken place, the Manhattan office investigating the incident will write up a report. Upon completion of this report, a public portion will immediately become available. However, until the ongoing case is closed, much of the crucial information will be hidden from the public portion. When the case is indeed closed, either you or your attorney can contact a local Manhattan police department to request a copy of the intact report. There is often a waiting period that goes along with getting a period of the report and the methods of obtaining it will vary, such as in person, electronically, or through the mail.
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