As a construction worker, no one has to tell you that you work in a dangerous occupation. Construction workers in New York City alone suffer nearly four times the fatalities of people in all other occupations. Thousands more sustain serious and sometimes life-altering injuries.
Despite the risks, you love working in construction and take pride in the buildings and other structures that you help create. You expect your employer to create a safe working environment but that does not always happen.
If you find yourself struggling to recover physically, financially, and emotionally from a work-related accident, a New York City construction accident lawyer can help you understand your rights. The construction injury lawyers at Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm have represented hundreds of construction workers after the unimaginable has happened.
With over three generations of experience, our construction injury attorneys will help you understand the compensation you may be eligible to receive as well as any laws that impact the filing of your claim and recovery of damage. Request a free consultation today, call 212-869-3500.
Common Types Of Construction Site Accidents
Working in construction is an extremely physical occupation. Throughout the course of the day, a construction worker may need to climb to a height of several stories, use powerful and heavy machinery, and work on roads right alongside moving traffic. The nature of the work significantly increases the risk of serious injury or death.
When a person sustains an injury at work, the normal course of action is to file for workers’ compensation benefits. However, construction site accidents are often an exception because it is common for people to work under the direction of someone other than their employer.
New York law allows injured workers to file a personal injury lawsuit against third parties even when the accident occurred at work. It also allows them to file a lawsuit against their employer when the employer demonstrated reckless conduct that showed little to no regard for the employee’s safety.
Because construction workers complete many diverse tasks, they can suffer from a wide range of significant injuries. Below is a list of the most common types of injuries reported to construction accident attorneys.
It is a shock to everyone when a building collapses, whether the collapse is complete or partial. In a partial building collapse, a staircase, floor, or ceiling can cave in and trap construction workers under the debris. A worker may also have the debris from the collapse strike and injure him or her. A complete building collapse means that the entire building has caved in all at the same time. Some typical causes of building collapses include mold, fire damage, and water leaks. The building owner must always act quickly to clear up these problems to avoid a collapse.
When used correctly and the crane is in good operating condition, this piece of heavy equipment enables construction workers to pick up items they would not be able to lift themselves and move them horizontally. Unfortunately, much can go wrong with the operation of a crane and accidents are common. For example, the crane could tip and crush the driver as well as anyone else standing in its path. It can also cause electrocution, platform falls, entrapment, and other life-threatening scenarios. The lifts on a crane, including boom, scissors, and vehicle-mounted, are frequent causes of crane accidents as well.
Electrical Burns And Shock
Construction workers can suffer electrical shock and burns when a power tool, generator, or piece of electrical wiring that they are using connects with a strong and unanticipated force of electricity. Unfortunately, it is common for construction workers to make accidental contact with buried underground wires and overhead wires. This is particularly dangerous because these types of wires contain no insulation and can easily electrocute someone.
If the employer did not place ground-fault protection, a worker who connects with the wires when using equipment such as a backhoe, crane, or ladder can receive severe burns or have enough voltage race through his or her body to cause immediate death.
Falling From High Elevation
A construction worker may fall from a tall building, a piece of machinery, or a piece of scaffolding onto the hard ground below. Falling into ditches or holes on construction sites is also common. The higher the elevation, the greater the likelihood of death or severe injuries. Typical injuries associated with falls from a high elevation include broken arms, legs, or neck, traumatic brain injury, and permanent paralysis.
A forklift is a piece of heavy equipment that can lift objects such as pallets and multiple pieces of lumber. The standard construction industry forklift can lift up to 8,000 pounds while the most heavy-duty forklift can lift as much as 30,000 pounds. Due to their inherent danger, a forklift operator must exercise extreme caution when operating this machine. It also needs frequent maintenance to ensure that it is up to the task of lifting such heavy loads all day long.
The following are some of the most common reasons for forklift accidents:
- The driver accidentally drives it off a loading dock
- The forklift hits a person in its path or runs someone over
- The forklift falls between an unsecured trailer and a loading dock nearby
- A person falls when the forks on the equipment or from the materials it is transporting strikes him or her
A hoist lifts and then lowers a load so a construction worker can reach it. Since the loads can be extremely heavy, it is essential for the chains and pulleys to work as they should. Workers should never overload a hoist or use it to lift people.
Some other safety precautions when using a hoist on a construction site include:
- Avoid using the hoist to pass a load over other construction workers
- Avoid exceeding the established load limit or tipping the load
- Never leave a suspended load unsupervised
- Only raise the load as high as it can go without causing a safety hazard
Lack Of Appropriate Safety Gear
All construction workers should wear a hard hat, safety glasses, and other types of personal protective equipment for every job. Unfortunately, construction site foremen are sometimes negligent in ensuring that all workers have what they need or the workers themselves may choose not to wear it. The type of injury sustained depends on which piece of equipment was used incorrectly or not at all. For example, failing to wear safety glasses could result in blindness or loss of an eye while not using a harness on a piece of scaffolding can lead to a fall causing a traumatic brain injury.
Construction site ladders must be safe and secure to prevent serious injuries to workers. Unfortunately, those responsible for workplace safety sometimes forget to check ladders to ensure they are safe for use. This can lead to severe injuries when a construction worker steps on a loose rung or the ladder tips over due to instability. Some of the most common faulty ladder injuries include broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, and neck injuries. Sadly, death is a common outcome as well.
Nail Gun Accidents
A nail gun saves workers from having to manually pound in every nail at a job site by hand. Although it can save considerable time, it can also be dangerous to use and must be handled with extreme caution. If a nail misses its target and strikes a worker instead, the result is usually a severe injury. Typical nail gun injuries include puncture wounds, eye injuries and blindness, nerve damage, brain damage, soft tissue injuries, amputation of a limb, and puncture wounds. An infected wound that does not receive immediate medical attention can cause the injuries to be much worse than they would have with prompt intervention.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repeating the same actions multiple times a day, such as lifting bricks or using a hammer, can cause damage to soft tissues and muscles. This can be quite painful and the construction worker will need time away from work to heal. Repetitive motion injuries in the construction field are a common reason for people to file a workers’ compensation claim, but they may also be eligible for construction lawsuit settlements if directed to continue the work after reporting the pain to a supervisor.
Despite the strict regulations that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has in place about securing pieces of scaffolding, they still collapse and can cause immediate death or severe injuries when a worker plunges to the ground. OSHA states that scaffolding accidents cause 60 deaths and 4,500 serious injuries across the United States each year. Our New York scaffold injury lawyers help workers recover when the imaginable happens.
In addition to collapse, the following are the most common types of scaffolding accidents:
- Electrocution: If a piece of scaffolding is not placed at least 10 feet from a power line, the construction worker faces a real risk of electrocution. The reason for this is that scaffolding is a piece of large metal equipment that naturally attracts electricity.
- Fall from a piece of scaffold: All scaffolding must be complete with guard rails before anyone stands on it. Construction workers should also have a harness and other personal safety equipment to prevent them from falling. When the necessary protective equipment and gear are faulty or missing, a worker can fall several hundred feet.
- Struck by a falling object: OSHA requires any piece of scaffolding that sits more than 10 feet above another surface to contain toeboards and for the site owner or contractor to ensure that all objects and equipment are secured to the scaffolding. People working below the piece of scaffold should always wear hard hats to prevent a head injury if something does fall from the platform.
- Tip-overs: A piece of scaffolding will not be secure if the foundation is not steady. Those manufacturing scaffolding must make sure that it has mud sills and base plates underneath all legs to provide strong support and stability.
Slip, Trip, And Fall Construction Injuries
This is a common type of workplace accident, particularly in the construction industry. In fact, it causes up to 25 percent of injuries among all construction workers. A worker may slip on spilled oil, ice, or debris left out in the open from other workers. He or she may also trip on stairways, construction site equipment, tools, or wiring.
These are just some of the most common examples. Here are some ways to help make your workplace safer and avoid a slip, trip, or fall accident:
- Remove all debris from walkways and stairways
- Use a fall arrest system or a safety net system
- Wipe up spills immediately
- Place toeboard and guardrails near the edges of a roof and install warning lights and a control line system
- Cover any hole on a floor immediately
- Place handrails on all stairways
- Every landing and step should be completely covered by tread
- Depending on the type of fall, these types of injuries can be as minor as cuts and bruises or as severe as a spinal cord or head injury.
According to OSHA, 25 percent of people struck and injured or killed by vehicles is a construction worker. The person may be working on the side of the road when struck by a driver who did not see him or her or failed to slow down in a work zone. Although New York law mandates that drivers who strike a person with their vehicle stop and render aid, this does not always happen. However, it is of little comfort to the injured construction worker that the driver may eventually be charged with criminal hit and run in addition to held personally responsible for his or her injuries.
Other potential causes of injuries due to a vehicle accident include:
- A worker being pinned between a construction vehicle and a wall or two construction vehicles
- Severe injury when a swinging backhoe strikes the worker’s body
- Crushed beneath a vehicle that has overturned
- Injured while driving a company vehicle or piece of heavy equipment due to a manufacturing flaw
- Colliding with another construction worker who did not wear reflective clothing or operated the machine in an improper manner
Construction workers who drive during their shift should always wear a seatbelt, a bright red or orange vest during the day, and a reflective vest at night. It is also essential to check the vehicle for potential problems at the start of each shift and that nothing obstructs his or her vision before starting the company vehicle or piece of construction equipment.
A trench collapse can turn into an immediate emergency because it cuts off the air supply of the worker. He or she can also be crushed or buried alive. The reason these accidents are so deadly is that a cubic yard of compacted soil can be equal in weight to a small vehicle. Although these accidents are infrequent, they can be among the most dangerous of all construction site accidents due to the extremely high risk of asphyxiation and crush injuries.
New York City is the envy of many cities across the country for its subway and tunnel system that helps to connect the city. However, most people do not give a second thought to the construction workers who face dangerous conditions every day when creating tunnels that make the city’s mass transit system possible. Although accidents are common among tunnel workers, so are occupational illnesses that develop over time such as lung cancer.
- Typical injuries in this line of work include the following:
- Falling into exposed shafts
- Falling from a piece of construction equipment
- Suffocation or burns caused by harmful gas exposure
- Struck by a piece of falling equipment such as a ladder, crane, or piece of scaffolding
- Flooding or other hazardous weather conditions inside of the tunnel
- Collapse of the ceiling, wall, or floor of the tunnel
Every category of the accident described above can produce serious consequences for the construction worker, including the following:
- Ankle injuries
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Head injury
- Knee injuries
- Neck injury
- Shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injury resulting in permanent paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Toxic chemical exposure illness
- Traumatic brain injury
- Vision impairment
The most serious construction site accidents cause immediate death of the worker or death from his or her injuries at a later date. Whether you suffered a serious injury on a construction site or you lost a close family member in a job-related accident, you have the right to contact a New York construction accident attorney within three years of the date of the accident or death.
New York Construction Law Regarding Worker Safety
Everyone who works on a construction site has the legal and moral responsibility to keep it safe. This includes the construction workers themselves as well as contractors, owners of construction companies, supervisors, and the client who is receiving the benefit of the work.
When a construction site accident occurs, it can quickly turn into a blame game with responsible parties often wanting to blame the injured construction worker for causing his or her own injuries. It can also become complex with knowing who bears legal responsibility and who you should sue with construction injury lawsuits. Contacting a construction accident attorney as soon as possible will help you understand how to move forward.
New York Labor Law 200 provides injured construction workers with several legal options if they sustain a serious injury at work. Under the provisions of this law, all contractors and site owners must manage a construction site by arranging and equipping it in such a way that it keeps workers safe regardless of the specific duties they need to complete. The law charges contractors and site owners with guarding the life, safety, and health of every construction worker under their direct management and supervision. New York allows injured workers to sue under this law for any type of negligence as well as unsafe practices and conditions.
The provisions of New York Labor Law 200 allow the contractor, construction site owner, or both to be held liable for injuries suffered by a construction worker depending on the specific worksite. This applies to situations where the site owner or contractor knew or should have known about a potentially dangerous situation and did not take steps to alleviate it. The key in determining legal responsibility is whether one or both parties directly supervised a worker who suffered a serious injury.
One thing to remember about this law is that it does not involve filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. That means you can collect workers’ compensation benefits at the same time.
Workers’ compensation will pay for such things as medical bills and a percentage of your lost wages while the proceeds from a winning lawsuit would compensate you for those categories and potentially pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other subjective damages. If you are eligible to file both workers’ compensation and a personal injury lawsuit, a New York construction accident lawyer from Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm can assist you with each.
Scaffolding is a large structure that enables construction workers to stand on it and work at elevated heights. According to OSHA, 840 construction workers die each year due to a fall from faulty scaffolding. Another 4,500 workers sustain a serious injury for the same reason. New York Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffolding Law, is in place to dramatically reduce these numbers. It states that all construction site owners and contractors, except for those who own a dwelling of one or two stories, can be held liable for a worker who suffers an injury due to a scaffolding collapse or a fall from a piece of scaffolding.
This law protects construction workers from the unique hazards of working at high elevation when he or she is involved in one of the following tasks:
- Pointing of a structure or building
Under the Scaffolding Law, a construction site owner or contractor must provide workers with the appropriate safety gear and tools to prevent an accident involving contact with a falling object or the worker falling from the scaffolding.
The following are common examples of claims made to construction injury lawyers involving scaffolding injuries:
- Contact with a falling object: Those in charge of the construction site must ensure that all materials and objects have been mounted and hoisted correctly. You have a legitimate claim under New York Labor Law 240 if this does not happen and you sustain an injury when an object strikes you.
- Fall from scaffolding: Every piece of scaffolding must be equipped with guardrails to prevent a fall. Additionally, workers must wear a harness and other types of safety gear. Lack of a guardrail or failure to provide the necessary safety equipment is grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
- Structural collapse: It is the responsibility of the construction site owner or contractor to ensure buildings are created properly to prevent a worker from falling from a piece of scaffolding.
- Unsecured materials: Every piece of scaffolding must have secure floorboards and railings. Site owners and contractors must also conduct periodic safety checks of decks, stairways, and other premises structures.
You must meet three specific conditions to qualify to file a personal injury lawsuit under New York’s Scaffolding Law. First, the injury must have occurred while you were working on a construction site. Secondly, your fall must fit into the guidelines of the law. Lastly, you must prove that the party you intend to sue committed professional negligence by not adhering to the
Protecting The Rights Of Workers For Decades
The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm’s New York construction accident attorneys have represented injured workers in and around New York City for many years. We can answer your questions about:
- A fall on a construction site
- An object that fell on you or a family member
- Scaffolding accidents
- Defective tools and dangerous materials
- A shoulder, arm, or hand injury
- A back or spine injury
- Chronic pain
- Damage to your vision or hearing
- Rehabilitation and treatment
- Whether you can return to work
Contact An Experienced New York Construction Accident Lawyer Today
Based in New York City, the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm serves individuals and families of injured workers throughout all five boroughs and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Let our family help yours.
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