Scaffolding Collapses in Lower Manhattan. ABC7 New York reported that scaffolding collapsed in lower Manhattan on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Six people were injured in the incident.
The scaffolding collapsed shortly after 11:30 a.m. The scaffolding collapse accident occurred close to the intersection of Prince and Broadway in the SoHo area. FDNY firefighters responded quickly; photos from the scene show wooden planks scattered throughout the street. FDNY officials commented “we’re absolutely lucky” that more people were not injured.
The site of the scaffolding collapse is a busy area. There is a subway stop located at the intersection, and many people were out walking around, relishing a pleasant Sunday morning.
An unexpected gust of powerful wind caused the scaffolding to fall. According to one source, a board of plywood triggered the collapse. The board “acted like a sail” and blew the entire section down. One witness said, “I saw it fall, I heard a banging, wood falling. It was really loud.”
Joseph Lonino, the FDNY Deputy Chief, commented, “At this corner, it’s very, very breezy. It was a very high shed; the windows are approximately 20 feet tall. The scaffold is about 20 feet high. The exterior plywood panels acted as kind of a sail, and it blew the shed over.”
Another witness said that the scaffolding appeared unstable. He explained, “It wasn’t good in the ground. It was up on a slant for about 20 minutes before it fell…It was good yesterday.”
Ben Kallos, a city councilman, explained that in some cases, scaffolding stays put for several years or longer and can weaken over time. “The scaffolding is supposed to protect us from buildings, but what’s going to protect us from the scaffolding?” he asked. Kallos has proposed a time limit of 3 to 6 months on overhead construction sheds like the one that collapsed. Kallos added, “The scaffolding should not be up so long that it becomes a danger in itself.”
Bystanders quickly assisted those who were trapped under the boards. The good Samaritans began pulling and lifting pieces of metal and beams and throwing them to the side. Two individuals had to be pulled out of the rubble. These two, along with three others, were transported to the hospital and were treated for minor injuries.
Once freed, one of the two people trapped underneath the rubble reportedly said, “What happened?”
Who is liable when scaffolding collapses?
Generally, most scaffolding accidents involve two types of victims: those who are construction workers and those who are bystanders.
If construction workers are injured in a scaffolding accident, they may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim against the employer. Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage to an employer for many accidents that occur on the job. Workers’ compensation protects an employer from going bankrupt in the event of a catastrophic incident, and it also allows the employee to obtain funds in a more expeditious manner. Pursuing a civil claim through the state court system would likely take significantly longer.
However, not all accidents are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, and workers’ compensation damages may not cover all of an employee’s medical bills. It may be necessary to pursue other legal options in some construction accident claims.
If a bystander is injured in a scaffolding accident, the claim proceeds in a different manner. Because the bystander is not an employee of the company in charge of the scaffolding, workers’ compensation insurance is not available. A civil claim must be filed to pursue damages.
Scaffolding accidents may involve many defendants. There are often several individuals and entities connected to a construction project. Engineers, architects, project managers, individual workers, and much more may all be involved in building and securing the scaffolding. Also, city or county officials responsible for issuing building permits may also be included.
The first step in a scaffolding accident case is to identify all of the possible defendants. This accident may require several weeks or more of investigating the matter. Experienced injury attorneys understand the steps that must be taken to identify and locate all of these defendants correctly.
It is also important to compile all evidence of damages before the lawsuit is filed. Of course, if a plaintiff is undergoing medical treatment during the suit, these damages may be added to the other losses that have already been listed in the lawsuit.
Depending on the characteristics of the scaffolding accident, damages may easily reach tens—even hundreds—of thousands of dollars. The purpose of damages in a civil suit is to make the plaintiff “whole” again after sustaining harm he or she has suffered due to the defendant’s negligence.
Damages may include:
- Medical bills, such as emergency room bills, ambulance expenses, physical therapy bills, chiropractor bills, surgical bills, and other medical costs
- Lost wages, if the injured plaintiff had to miss work to recover from his or her injuries, or if the plaintiff could no longer fulfill certain work duties
- Pain and suffering, which compensates a plaintiff for the physical discomfort he or she has suffered as a result of an injury
- Emotional distress, which repays a plaintiff for the psychological harm an incident has caused, such as anxiety or depression
- The cost of altering one’s residence to accommodate injuries—many plaintiffs need wheelchair ramps or stair lifts during their recovery
- Loss of consortium, which typically compensates spouses or children for the harm the plaintiff’s injuries have caused to their relationship
- The expense of any future medical care that may be required, such as surgeries or physical therapy
Some or all of these damages could be available, depending on the facts of the case. Of course, more damages may be available as well. In general, so long as the damages sought are directly related to the incident, the plaintiff may be able to seek them.
The plaintiff must also provide clear evidence of the defendants’ negligence. For each defendant named in the lawsuit, the plaintiff must state how that defendant was negligent. For example, if a construction company is named in a scaffolding accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must explain the specific negligent acts or omissions committed by the company. Did the company fail to properly secure the scaffolding? Were inexperienced workers tasked with constructing the scaffolding? How long was the scaffolding in place? Should it have been regularly inspected for signs of deterioration? Your attorney will carefully study the facts of the case and will determine how the defendants were negligent.
In many cases, the parties may be able to settle their claims. Your attorney will ensure that any settlement offers are fair to you, and will also take the time to explain any legal implications of accepting such a settlement. If the parties cannot settle their claims, the case may proceed to trial. Again, your injury attorney will prepare you thoroughly for your day in court, if it becomes necessary.
An Experienced Attorney is Valuable in Scaffolding Collapses Injury Claims
If falling scaffolding has injured you or your loved one, consult with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP today to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys pursue all avenues of recovery for our clients. Contact Parker Waichman LLP for your free consultation with our legal team, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).