Why Do Construction Accidents Happen?
While industry regulations are in place to protect construction workers, accidents happen. It doesn’t help that this type of work is done at great heights, often with powerful, complex machinery, and amid countless potential dangers.
Still, most construction accidents could have been prevented if not for negligence.
Negligent Causes of Construction Accidents
Accidents on construction sites are often caused by:
- Lack of training
- Lack of supervision
- Lack of safety equipment
- Poor communication
- Poorly maintained equipment and machinery
- Defective tools and machinery
- Ungrounded conductors, or hot wires
- Working in bad weather (rain, snow, etc.)
Whatever the cause, our New York construction accident attorneys have the experience to help you through this difficult time. Reach out to Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP for help. We’ll protect your rights!
Different Types of Construction Accidents
The Fatal Four
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long been concerned with the high rates of injury on construction sites. Data for 2019 showed that out of the over 5,000 workers who died on the job, 20% worked in the construction industry.
To curb this problem, OSHA has identified the top four types of fatal construction accidents—or the “Fatal Four.” People bereaved by any of the Fatal Four typically qualify for compensation. Non-fatal injuries may also result, and those injured may also be compensated.
Common examples include:
- Scaffolding accidents: Scaffolding can be erected at great heights. When workers fall from these structures or when scaffolding collapses, significant and life-altering injuries can result. These accidents may involve mobile scaffolds, suspension scaffolds, scissor lifts, and pipe scaffolds, among others.
- Slip and falls: Slips, trips, and falls are common on construction sites, such as those caused by exposed wiring, wet and slippery floors, or loose rubble.
- Falls from heights: Whether it was because of a defective ladder or just gravity, these falls can prove tragic.
Non-fatal fall injuries can be enough to keep workers from returning to the job. These injuries may also require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Struck by an Object
Many major construction accidents are caused by falling objects, such as site debris, or moving objects/machinery.
Forklift and crane accidents may also fall into this category.
Electrocution is death from electric shock. Such accidents are common on worksites where there are building code violations.
When electric shock accidents aren’t fatal, they may result in severe pain, burns, internal injuries, and more.
Caught-In or Caught-Between Accidents
These major construction accidents involve one or more moving objects.
A common example is when a worker gets caught between a forklift and a wall. Another example would be having your arm (or another body part) caught in a piece of machinery.
Other Common Types of Construction Accidents
Some other common construction accidents are:
- Structure collapses
- Manhole accidents
- Toxic exposure, such as to asbestos
Get Compensated for Your Construction Injuries
If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident, you could be entitled to compensation for the damages below:
- Hospital care
- Physical therapy
- Future medical care
- Lost wages and benefits
- Lost earning capacity
- Vocational training
- Pain and suffering
Those bereaved by a construction accident may be compensated for wrongful death damages, from funeral expenses to the loss of love and society.
Who Is Responsible for Compensating Injured Construction Workers?
This brings us to who is responsible for compensating an injured construction worker after an accident.
In some cases, the employer will need to compensate the worker through their workers’ compensation insurance. Other times, a third party will need to pay these damages. In either case, you can recover compensation if you were partially at fault.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
According to workers’ comp law in New York, an injured construction worker may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits through their employer’s insurance.
These benefits do not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish. Instead, they compensate the worker for part of their lost wages and medical care.
If the accident caused a career-ending injury, workers’ comp may also cover vocational training so that the worker can find a new job.
A construction worker cannot sue their employer for a worksite injury. An exception is if the employer caused the injury intentionally. Another is if the employer should have had workers’ comp insurance but didn’t.
If eligible, you can file for workers’ comp benefits even if you were at fault for the injury.
Third-Party Liability Lawsuits
If someone besides yourself and your employer was at fault for the accident, you may sue that person for damages. A negligent company or corporation may also be the subject of these third-party lawsuits.
Suing a third party can result in compensation for all the damages you have suffered. That means both economic damages (medical expenses and lost wages) and non-economic damages.
It is important to consider whether you have a right to sue before filing a workers’ comp claim. Many people do not realize a third party caused their injuries. A common example would be any major construction accident caused by an equipment malfunction. Manufacturers must make sure that their products are safe for use—otherwise, they’re on the hook for any damages.
Keep in mind: You can sue a negligent third party even if you were almost entirely at fault for the accident. Your compensation will be reduced appropriately.
To find out if you have a case, consult a personal injury lawyer in New York.
New York Labor Laws — Know Your Rights
Workers across all industries are owed a safe place to work. That’s not an opinion; it’s the law.
Construction workers have this right, as well as other special protections under New York labor law.
Labor Law 200
Labor Law 200 guarantees construction workers the right to a safe workplace.
If a worksite hazard causes injury, the construction worker may sue the:
- General contractor
- Worksite owner
- Or whoever was in charge
Labor Law 240
Labor Law 240, or the “Scaffold Law,” spells out specific guidelines for scaffolding on construction sites. It also grants injured construction workers the right to compensation if those guidelines are violated.
Because this is a “strict liability” law, you must prove your injury was rooted in a violation of the Scaffold Law.
Labor Law 241
Labor Law 241 details the rules and regulations for construction, excavation, and demolition.
Like the Scaffold Law, construction workers injured by violations of Labor Law 241 are entitled to compensation.
How Do I Know if I Need a Lawyer?
When there is a lot at stake, it is best to get a lawyer.
This is especially true for construction injuries, as they tend to be severe and put you out of work. Such injuries make it hard to afford the cost of living, let alone the medical care you need. And the worse the injury, the worse the hardship.
Consider the stakes of your case when thinking about hiring a New York construction accident lawyer:
- How severe is the injury?
- How has the injury affected your life?
- Has the injury affected your family?
- Who was responsible for the injury?
- How long is the recovery expected to take?
- Will you be able to return to the same job?
- How much will your medical care cost?
When taking legal action, you need to know how to investigate and prove a case, fight for full compensation, and fully understand the laws that apply. An experienced lawyer can check all these boxes.
If you want to give yourself a strong chance of winning, getting a lawyer is the best way to do that.
Start with a Free Consultation
At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP, our attorneys are committed to advocating for construction accident victims. Whether you or your loved one was injured on a construction site, we want to make sure you get the help you need and deserve. Don’t let the responsible party stick you with the bill. You’ve been through enough as it is.
When you’re ready to act, we’re right here to hit the ground running. Find out why New Yorkers turn to us for help!