Many hard-working people doing construction and renovation work are injured while on the job. In many situations, the worker is covered under Worker’s Compensation. However, there are many situations where the injured worker is entitled to bring a direct lawsuit against the owner and general contractor for pain and suffering under Labor Law § 200, § 240, or § 241. If you have been involved in a construction accident in New York, do not hesitate to call our personal injury lawyers.
Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents
Construction sites are inherently hazardous, with a multitude of factors contributing to accidents. Common causes include:
- Unsafe Working Conditions: Lack of proper safety measures, inadequate training, or insufficient safety equipment can lead to accidents.
- Falling Objects: Workers are often at risk from tools, materials, or debris falling from heights.
- Machinery Accidents: Heavy machinery, if improperly used or maintained, can cause serious injuries.
- Electrical Hazards: Exposed wiring, power lines, and electrical equipment pose significant risks.
- Slip and Falls: Uneven surfaces, spills, and debris can lead to falls, one of the most common construction site accidents.
- Overexertion: Long hours and physically demanding work can result in injuries related to overexertion.
The Fatal Four Construction Accidents
These are the four most common causes of fatal accidents on construction sites:
- Falls: The leading cause of construction fatalities, falls can occur from scaffolding, roofs, or ladders. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), falls account for the highest number of fatalities in the construction industry, representing about 33.5% of construction deaths in a recent year. These incidents often result from inadequate use of personal fall arrest systems and a lack of guardrails or safety nets.
- Struck-By Incidents: These involve workers being hit by falling objects, machinery, or vehicles. Struck-by-object deaths are the second leading cause of fatalities, comprising around 11.1% of construction worker deaths. Ensuring that workers wear high-visibility clothes and enforcing vehicle safety protocols can mitigate these risks.
- Electrocutions: These accidents happen due to contact with electrical sources or live wires. Electrocutions account for approximately 8.5% of construction worker fatalities. These can be reduced by implementing lockout/tagout procedures, proper training, and ensuring that power sources are de-energized before work begins.
- Caught-In/Between: Workers can be caught in or compressed by equipment, objects, or collapsing structures. These accidents make up about 5.5% of construction deaths. They often occur in trench collapses or when workers are caught in machinery. Adhering to proper trenching safety practices and ensuring equipment safety can help prevent these incidents.
Who’s Liable For My Injuries After a NYC Construction Accident?
General Contractors & Construction Site Owners
When a property owner decides to build or alter a structure in New York City, they are responsible for ensuring the safety of construction workers. Under Section 200 of the New York Labor Law, owners and general contractors must provide a safe working environment. This includes addressing potential hazards and providing necessary safety equipment and training.
The Scaffolding Law
Section 240 of New York’s Labor Law, known as the “Scaffolding Law,” outlines the requirements for scaffolding and other high-risk equipment. It establishes strict liability for property owners and general contractors in cases of injuries involving scaffolding, hoists, ladders, and similar devices. Under this law, injured workers have the right to hold these parties accountable without needing to prove negligence.
Subcontractors also share responsibility for safety on construction sites. They must ensure their work complies with safety standards and does not create hazards for others on site.
Engineers and Architects
Engineers and architects are responsible for the safe design and planning of construction projects. They must ensure that their designs and plans adhere to safety regulations and do not pose undue risks to workers.
Manufacturers of construction equipment are liable if their products are defective and cause injuries. Ensuring that machinery and tools are safe for use is paramount.
Damages Available After a New York or Long Island Construction Accident
In the wake of a construction accident, medical expenses often form the bulk of immediate financial concerns. This category covers all costs associated with emergency medical care, including visits to the emergency room, hospitalization, surgical procedures, and any initial treatments required due to the injury. Beyond these immediate expenses, it also encompasses ongoing medical needs such as follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy, rehabilitation services, and any long-term healthcare requirements. If the injury results in chronic conditions or disabilities, the victim may also claim projected future medical expenses, ensuring coverage for continued healthcare needs.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Lost wages compensation addresses the income you miss out on while recovering from your injuries. This is crucial for workers whose families depend on their income for daily living expenses. More significantly, if the injury impacts your future ability to work, either by diminishing your capacity to perform certain tasks or by cutting your career short, you can claim damages for lost earning capacity. This calculation considers not just your current salary, but also factors in potential future earnings, promotions, and career growth opportunities lost due to the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages acknowledge the non-economic impact of your injuries. This includes compensation for both the physical pain and discomfort endured as a result of the injury, as well as the emotional and psychological distress that often accompanies serious physical harm. Emotional distress can manifest as anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health conditions. Additionally, if your injuries hinder you from engaging in hobbies, sports, or other activities that contribute to your quality of life, you may be compensated for this loss.
In certain cases, you may be entitled to additional forms of compensation. Loss of consortium damages are awarded when injuries adversely affect the relationship with your spouse, including loss of companionship or support. In instances of particularly egregious negligence, punitive damages might be awarded. These are intended not just to compensate the victim but to punish the responsible party and deter similar negligence in the future. In the tragic event of a fatal accident, the victim’s family can pursue wrongful death and survivor damages. These cover the financial and emotional loss suffered due to the death, including funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and loss of companionship.
Each type of damage plays a crucial role in the overall compensation for construction accident victims, addressing both the immediate and long-term impacts of their injuries. Navigating these claims can be complex, and understanding the specific legal landscape of New York and Long Island is essential for a successful outcome. Legal expertise in construction accident law is invaluable for effectively claiming and maximizing these damages.
Contact Our New York Construction Accident Attorneys
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a construction accident, contact our experienced attorneys. We’re here to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.
The Saul Law Firm, LLP helps clients with construction accident cases throughout Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, Brooklyn, New York City, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Westchester County.