Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. – FIGHTING FOR YOU®
Working in the construction industry is one of the most dangerous occupations. But, many job site accidents could be avoided if all contractors and owners and their agents, subcontractors or other parties, trades and equipment manufacturers acted with care. Our attorneys help you file your workers’ compensation claim and pursue actions against third parties such as owners, contractors, subcontractors or other trades to recover the money and benefits you are entitled to.
Verdict In Construction Accident Case
Verdict In Construction Accident Case
Verdict In Construction Accident Case
NEW YORK CITY CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS THAT ARE ON YOUR SIDE!
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reported a decline in injury rates among most professions within the last two decades, one in ten construction workers are still injured every year.
OSHA also reported that 21.4% of all private industry fatalities were in construction, so clearly, construction is a high-risk profession and injuries can be life changing.
As a construction worker, you know how physically challenging your job can be, requiring the highest level of physical stamina and health. Since your livelihood depends upon your body being in top-notch condition, if you are the victim of a construction accident, it’s in your best interests to talk to an experienced New York City construction accident attorney today.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED
If you have been injured in a construction accident, there are a few things you can do to protect your rights:
- Get immediate medical attention for your injuries - Even seemingly innocuous incidents can leave long-term bodily damage. It’s critical to get a doctor’s assessment as quickly as possible in case you need treatment to prevent further injury or debilitating condition.
- Report the accident to your employer within 24 hours - You have the obligation to inform your company that you have been hurt. It begins a paper trail documenting the conditions at the workplace and any potential issues that could have caused the injury. Of course, you’re also helping your co-workers limit their risk of getting hurt on the job as well.
- Preserve any evidence pertaining to the accident that you can - This can be difficult, as when you’re working construction, the site manager will likely want others to keep completing their work as subcontractors. Still, any malfunctioning equipment or faulty rigging should be set aside anyway so as not to be a hazard to others.
- Take pictures or ask others to take them for you - Even if it’s just with a cell phone, getting photographic evidence can be critical in establishing the facts at the time of the incident. Considering how much activity that goes on at the site, if you’re able to, you can even take photos yourself while someone is calling for help.
- Don’t make any statements to insurance companies or investigators until you’ve consulted with a reputable construction injury attorney - Other parties have no duty to you: a general contractor wants to escape liability, the insurance company does not want to pay your claims and any other parties do not want to face liability. A New York construction accident attorney will fight for YOU and only you.
Types of Accidents
Construction work carries with it a multitude of accident risks. Some of the more common accidents involve:
- Falls – Falls accounted for over 38.8% of the construction fatalities in 2015. Falls are often caused from the failure to provide safety harnesses, fall arrest systems, netting, scaffolds, or other safety devices.
- Falling Objects – Construction work usually involves the constant risk of workers being struck by falling objects and debris that has not been properly hoisted or secured. Over 9.6% of construction fatalities in 2015 were attributed to employees being struck by objects.
- Excavation and Trenching – Trenching operations can turn deadly if a cave-in occurs, burying a construction worker under tons of collapsing earth. When this type of accident happens, workers can be injured by inhalation of toxic fumes, explosions, or electrocution when underground utilities are struck, or even die of asphyxiation.
- Electrocution – Electricity is another danger construction workers face on the job site when working with “live” wires or failing to tag or lock out circuits. Over 8% of construction workers killed in on-the-job accidents were electrocuted.
- Burns – Construction workers often use welding and other types of equipment that can result in painful and debilitating burn injuries.
- Heavy Machinery – Construction work involves the use of a variety of different types of heavy, and often dangerous, machinery. Workers are sometimes injured or killed by being run over by heavy machinery weighing tons.
CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT CLAIMS HAVE STRICT DEADLINES
There is a limited amount of time you have to file a construction accident lawsuit in the state of New York. This time limit, also known as the Statute of Limitations, is three years from the date of injury. Since there is a limited duration of time to file a lawsuit related to your construction accident and injuries, it is essential that you contact an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
How to file a claim?
1. Gather your photographic evidence as well as the names and numbers of any co-workers who may have been a witness to both your accident. If possible, note what machinery or equipment was in place that led to a fall, other items landing on you or whatever may have caused your injuries to occur.
2. Find and keep track of any paystubs that you have on hand from your current position, as this can help you establish what lost wages you might face in the future as a result of your injury.
3. Set aside any medical records, including doctors’ notes, x-rays and other diagnostics, as well as any indications of how long you will need to recover or what limitations you will have in working moving forward. Make sure to keep track of bills that relate to any medication, medical equipment you need as you recover like crutches as well as any physical therapy bills.
4. Keep in mind that successful New York construction accident lawyers can walk you through the process. However, there are special areas of the New York labor law that focus on when employees can seek a legal remedy beyond just filing for worker’s compensation. They include guaranteeing the viability of any equipment and protecting workers from falling or from falling objects, among others.
5. Work with a qualified accident attorney. They can help you with the resources you need to develop the best possible case for your legal needs.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CLAIM AS STRONG AS POSSIBLE
The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be. Above, the information about how to file a construction accident claim noted that there are a variety of ways to document what happened on the day that you or a loved one got hurt. Gathering as many photographs of the scene as possible, the names of any employees and supervisors around, as well as the types of equipment involved in the incident, can all help.
Leveraging the expertise of medical experts can also help. This can be the health officer at a major construction site, the EMT or even the specialist who tells you just how much you are or are not able to work. Gathering these documents can point to your own expenses, as well as any lost wages that a construction accident lawyer in New York will fight to get back for you.
Keep in mind that every case is different, however. Ultimately, it is up to a judge or a settlement negotiation team to decide. Having as much evidence on hand that helps document negligence or an unsafe environment goes a long way towards having the most success.
WHO CAN BE HELD LIABLE
There are a number of parties that CAN be held responsible in the case of a construction accident, but that doesn’t mean that all will be named as potential defendants in your case. For example, common defendants may include the general contractor, the construction manager or other contractors and their insurers. However, in some less likely cases, your construction accident attorney may recommend that you also seek damages from equipment manufacturers as well as the building or structure owner. This all depends on what equipment or materials broke or failed and how them doing so resulted in your injury.
Parties Typically Involved
The parties that are most typically involved are the general contractor and the general contractor’s insurance company. Since this person or company provides the equipment you use to scale building sites and reach distant areas, they are the most likely to bear some sort of responsibility in the case of a fall or a falling object. If there are other scenarios where the work environment is unsafe, it often falls on the construction manager or head of the general contracting firm to provide a safe place for everyone to work on the site.
What becomes less likely, but still possible, is for another contractor or subcontractor to have damaged scaffolding or left a ladder out of place. Anything like this could result in a slip-and-fall or equipment falling on you. Similarly, you may find that the equipment itself was faulty. As noted above, this might be a result of a failure to regularly inspect items on the part of the contractor. In extremely rare cases, it could be a sign that the equipment wasn’t working properly in the first case.
How To Determine Who May Be Liable
Trying to find out and determine who is responsible can become a difficult prospect. After all, there are the strict laws and precedent against holding general contractors liable unless they have violated the specific statutes of New York labor law that have been established for victims of construction accidents. Your best opportunity for finding the liable parties who may be able to pay damages and provide legal redress is to work with an accident attorney with experience on construction incidents resulting in injuries of all kinds.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS
The most common route that victims of construction accidents take is making a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation provides much-needed benefits to injured employees. However, it’s important to realize that there are some limitations. For example, workers’ compensation will not reimburse for all lost earnings associated with:
- Vacation funds
- Social Security Disability
- Loss of household services
Even if you are receiving worker’s compensation you still may be able to sue the party responsible for your injuries. Not many people understand that they may not have to settle for just workers’ compensation benefits.
Depending on the accident, multiple third parties could be held liable, including:
- The general contractor
- The construction manager
- Other contractors and subcontractors
- Equipment manufacturers
- The owner of the building or structure
The New York construction accident attorneys of Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. have extensive experience in identifying all liable parties in order to help you get the maximum possible recovery.
TYPES OF DAMAGES RECOVERABLE IN CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS
The advantage of a third-party lawsuit as opposed to worker’s compensation is that the victim of a construction accident can recover additional money. By filing a third-party lawsuit, an injured construction worker may be able to be compensated for both past and future damages, including:
- Lost wages
- Loss of annuity/pension
- Lost income
- Loss of healthcare benefits
- Loss of income from Social Security
- Loss of value of household services
- Medical benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium if a spouse, parent or child has been negatively affected by the worker’s injury
NEW YORK LABOR LAW PROVIDES SPECIAL PROTECTIONS TO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
While the general rule in New York is that employees cannot sue their employers, New York State has special legal protections to workers who have been victims of construction site accidents.
- Section 200.This section of New York labor law requires owners and contractors to take reasonable care to protect workers on the job site by providing safe workplaces under their control.
- Section 240. This section of New York Labor law requires building owners and contractors to provide scaffolds, ladders, and other devices to give their workers proper and adequate protection when involved in erecting, demolishing, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning, or pointing a structure or building. The owner and general contractor is absolutely liable, even if they had no notice, when a construction worker is injured due to the force of gravity (i.e. falling or being struck by a falling object)
- Section 241.This statute outlines the specific actions as well as specific equipment required on a construction site to ensure the safety of construction workers in the state of New York.
If employers and contractors fail to uphold their duties under these special construction statutes, they can be held liable for injuries that result. If you’ve been injured in a construction accident and feel that your employer may be held directly liable, the experienced NYC construction injury attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. can walk you through the legal issues that may be involved in your case.
In addition to these special construction statutes, you may also be entitled to benefits under the New York workers’ compensation laws.
NEW YORK LAW FIRM – OFFICE LOCATIONS
At Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. we fight hard to get you the outcome you deserve. To better serve you, we have five office locations in the New York area. If you have any questions, please give us a call today or select any of the location options below to learn more.
WE’RE FIGHTING FOR YOU®
Don’t settle for just worker’s compensation benefits. If you have been injured in a construction accident and have a claim, you will need an experienced New York construction accident attorney to make sure you get the compensation you need and deserve. With more than 150 years of combined experience and a proven track record of success, the construction injury attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. are well-prepared to handle all your legal needs.
CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT FAQS
New York State law prohibits employees from suing their employers for injuries sustained in a construction accident. However, there are a few exceptions. When a construction accident is the fault of an employer, an injured worker is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. If someone other than the employer is also at fault for your injuries, such as the owner of the property, the landlord, the managing agent, the superintendent, the general contractor, the subcontractor, or anyone else other than your employer, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit to recover additional money. In addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits, you can receive money for your pain and suffering and economic loss, your lost wages, your loss of pension or annuity, your loss of vacation funds, your loss of Social Security income, and your loss of household help.
Most workplace injuries on construction sites are caused by factors other than those caused/created by the employer. Often, the action is the fault of the owner of the property, the landlord, the managing agent, the superintendent, the general contractor, or the subcontractor. These accidents usually occur due to the fault of a third party, not the employer. We can file a lawsuit against those parties to collect money that cannot be recovered under Workers’ Compensation. Those additional funds can include money for your pain and suffering and economic losses, including your lost wages, your loss of annuity, loss of pension, your loss of vacation funds, your loss of Social Security income, loss of health insurance, your loss of household help, and other damages.
Construction accidents can be caused by numerous factors including:
- Falls from any height
- Falls from roofs
- Falls from ladders
- Falls from scaffolds
- Falling debris
- Falling objects
- Trips and/or slips and falls
- Failure to provide safety equipment
- Scaffolding accidents
- Crane and hoist accidents
- Collisions with equipment
- Lift equipment failure
- Trench collapse
- Electrical accidents
Depending upon the nature of your accident third parties at fault for a construction accident may include:
- Property owners
- General contractors
- Landlords and managing agents
- Building superintendents
- Equipment manufacturers
The benefit to a third-party lawsuit is that an injured construction worker can collect money for damages that you would never be entitled to collect through Workers’ Compensation including compensation for:
- Pain and suffering (both past and future)
- Lost wages not covered by workers’ compensation
- Loss of annuity
- Loss of pension
- Loss of Social Security income
- Loss of vacation funds
- Medical expenses not covered by workers’ compensation or denied by workers’ compensation
- Loss of consortium — spousal or parent-child relationships that have been negatively impacted by the injury
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of household help
Yes. An experienced construction accident lawyer can help you prove who was liable for the accident. Even though strong laws exist to help construction workers, construction companies hire expensive lawyers to find loopholes to shield them. For example, falling equipment, including cranes, is a common cause of construction accidents but construction companies may try to blame you for the accident or claim something else caused the injury.
On large construction projects it can be difficult to find out whose negligence caused an accident. In addition to the general contractor and any subcontractors, there are third parties who bring equipment to the site as well as the owner who has a presence. An experienced lawyer help you get the best chance at the compensation you deserve by making sure you identify the responsible entities.
A lawyer who has experience with construction accidents can help you in many ways. First, there is crucial evidence that needs to be gathered after an accident. You need to investigate exactly what happened, which involves examining the site, talking to witnesses, and getting information from the responsible parties. Second, since many entities will be associated with a large construction project, you may not even realize which parties might be liable under New York laws. Finally, while the law is designed to protect constructions workers, companies spend a lot of money trying to say your particular accident wasn’t covered under the law. An experienced lawyer can put your case in the best position possible to fight for the compensation you deserve.
You need to know that New York has strict labor laws to protect construction workers. General contractors and their subs and agents are required to provide certain safety protections. Falls and injuries from falling equipment are unfortunately common. So common, in fact, that the law makes contractors strictly liable in certain cases – which means if an injury occurs, the contractor is presumed responsible, if they weren’t following procedures.
If you’ve been injured in a construction accident, you should be able to recover all of your medical bills. If another party’s negligence caused your accident, or the contractor was found strictly liable for the accident, then you are legally entitled to a full recovery of all of your medical bills. This should be a comprehensive coverage of all follow-up treatments and medicines, up to the point of the settlement – and projected into the future, if needed. Most cases settle out of court and the insurance companies will almost always try to lowball you. They will pressure you to settle early and for far less than they know your claim is worth. You definitely don’t want to settle your claim until you and your doctor know whether you have any continuing medical treatments that will be necessary.
Workers’ compensation is supposed to cover lost wages while you recover from a workplace injury, and also cover your medical bills. While this is an important safeguard for construction workers, too often workers’ comp payouts don’t fully cover your lost income or medical needs. Unfortunately, construction site accidents can cause serious injuries that require complicated treatments. While workers’ comp doesn’t allow you to sue your employer, New York labor laws may allow you bring a lawsuit against third parties such as a general contractor or subcontractor. That might help ensure that you can recover fully enough to return to work, or be properly compensated if your future working ability is going to be limited.
If another party’s negligence caused your accident, or the contractor was found strictly liable for the accident, then you are legally entitled to a full recovery of all of your medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for your pain and suffering.
Payment for your medical bills includes all expenses related to your medical treatments. That includes all hospital bills, doctor visits, medicines, and even miscellaneous related expenses. It also includes any future doctor’s visits and other treatments you may need. Compensation for lost wages should also be comprehensive. This means that not only should you be covered for time missed from work, but also for any loss of future income potential. You can also sue for payment for the pain and suffering you’ve endured due to the accident, which covers more than just physical pain, but also the emotional toll it’s taken on you and your family.
In New York, the statute of limitations for bringing a construction accident lawsuit is three years. This means you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit charging negligence. If the accident leads to a fatality, the family of the deceased has two years from the date of the accident to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you think you have grounds for a lawsuit, don’t wait too long. There is certain information that needs to be gathered before the lawsuit is filed. And the sooner your investigators can start preserving evidence and talking to witnesses, the stronger your case will be.
A settlement is a final resolution for your case. Once you sign a settlement, you waive all rights to collect any compensation in the future and the lawsuit will be dismissed. Insurance companies will often pressure you to settle the case early, which works against your interests. You want to wait until you know how your injury is healing and whether there will be any long-term disability before you think about agreeing to a settlement. And the amount an insurance company will agree to pay for pain and suffering damages is often gauged against your total medical costs. In addition, you want to be sure you’ve calculated all the lost wages to that point, and any projected loss of income in the future. You should consult a lawyer before you agree to any settlement.
It can be very important in construction accident cases to get the right evidence needed to prove your claim. Experienced lawyers will know what is typically needed to prove negligence under New York’s labor laws. In construction accident cases, the use of expert witnesses can be crucial to proving your claim.
Evidence will need to be collected about the safety equipment that was in place. You may need expert witnesses t0 testify as to whether that safety equipment was adequate for the project. For example, if the injury was due to a fall, falls are often caused by a lack of adequate safety equipment like harnesses and fall arrest systems, or failure of netting, scaffolds, and other safety devices.