There is no shortage of construction in New York and surrounding areas. For every construction site, you pass on the street, hundreds of workers can play some role in that project. Workers in construction sites are at an elevated risk of injury or death. Construction workers know the dangers that can cause them harm at a site, but they can still succumb to injuries when a site owner, contractor or third party involved in the project acts negligently.
You may be eligible for compensation if you sustain injuries while working in construction in New York. While injuries are commonplace in construction work, you have rights under the law when those injuries are due to another’s carelessness or recklessness. Understanding the injuries you suffered and the cause of those injuries can help you determine what compensation you might be eligible for and who may be liable to you.
What Accidents Can Happen at a Construction Site?
It does not take long while walking through a construction site to see what can cause injury to a worker during their job. The state and federal governments place enormous pressure through safety regulations and other laws to help avoid preventable accidents for high-risk construction workers. Unfortunately, not all companies, contractors and property owners take safety seriously.
When businesses and employers cut corners and take shortcuts, the consequences can potentially cause fatal or life-altering injuries to the construction site accident victims.
- Falls, trips or slips. The number one cause of death within New York and nationwide is falls. Construction sites often have workers engaging in strenuous work and duties at significant heights and on elevated platforms. Any trip, slip or fall is a potential threat to a worker’s life at a construction site.
- Exposure to electrical elements. With new construction or remodels often comes substantial electrical work. Exposed wiring or faulty can cause shock or electrocution to unsuspecting workers in the vicinity or working on a particular assignment.
- Explosions or fire. When flammable materials are present on a site, there is always a risk of fire or potential explosion. This can cause widespread damage and injuries to workers in the incident area.
- Leaking or spills of toxic substances. Chemicals and hazardous materials are part of most construction sites. Site owners and those in charge of these substances must take great care to prevent accidental spills, leaks or exposure. Gases, fumes or direct contact with these dangerous substances can cause death, injury or long-term conditions to construction workers.
- Falling objects. Workers at a construction site must worry about falling themselves and objects falling onto them. For example, the transfer, lifting and moving of heavy loads, equipment and materials often occur throughout a site.
- Accidents involving equipment or machinery. Construction requires the use of heavy-duty machinery, tools and equipment to get the job done. However, these machines are often dangerous and hazardous to those nearby.
- Construction vehicle accidents. There are vehicles at every corner on a construction site with workers moving about as well. Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen often. For example, workers may suffer injuries when drivers are driving distracted, fatigued or speeding through to get to their destination.
- Flying debris or materials. During work and equipment use, it is common for debris from materials to scatter in the air and across the area. Workers participating in the work itself or those passing nearby risk suffering injuries to their eyes and body if proper safety protections are not in place.
Most Common Injuries in a New York Construction Accident
The injuries that can happen to a construction worker can range from minor to fatal. While one worker may require some short time off and little medical attention, others can face debilitating injuries requiring emergency evacuation, intensive medical care, rehabilitation, surgery or hospitalization.
Getting sidelined for any injury as a construction worker means you must worry about the medical bills for your care and the missed wages while you cannot fulfill your job.
The more severe your injuries, the more likely you are to face a lengthy recovery and could face unexpected complications or obstacles in your recovery.
- Fractures. Broken bones to a construction accident victim are common, particularly in cases of construction vehicle accidents, equipment incidents or slips and falls. Depending on the severity of the break, whether there is the involvement of nearby tendons, ligaments or muscles or if there are multiple fractures, you may need surgery and will be out of commission for some time to wait for your bones to heal.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI). Injuries to the spinal cord because of a construction accident can cause a victim to lose significant function and mobility. While some victims may be able to heal, others, such as those with paralysis, may have lifelong disabilities that they will not fully recover from.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Falls, falling objects and anything that has the potential to cause trauma to the head or neck can result in a TBI. TBIs are frustrating and overwhelming injuries that can significantly affect your enjoyment and quality of life and your ability to care for yourself.
- Burns. When it comes to burns, most people will associate it with heat. While it is possible to suffer thermal burns on a construction site, a worker could also sustain burn injuries from electrical exposure, cold exposure or chemical exposure.
- Exposure to poisonous chemicals or fumes. Touching or inhaling toxic fumes and substances at a construction site can cause immediate illness to a worker or result in the development of chronic conditions or diseases after repeated exposures over time.
- Loss of sight or hearing. Examples of vision loss at a site include when a construction worker suffers exposure to dangerous gases or debris hitting their eyes, causing serious injury. Hearing loss can happen when there are loud sounds or exposure to sudden pressure changes while working.
- Crush injuries. Getting crushed by heavy loads, equipment or machinery while at a construction work site can result in catastrophic injuries, including the potential to lose an extremity or limb.
Can You Sue for a Construction Accident Injury?
The potential dangers present for construction workers when on the job is a well-known problem, and the threat to their safety is a concern for everyone, not just the workers themselves. New York has enacted various labor laws to offer protection and remedies to construction workers to address these safety concerns and encourage businesses to provide a safe work environment.
Workers that suffer injuries while at work due to the failures of the higher-ups within the work site, such as safety violations, scaffolding accidents and incidents involving demolition or excavation work. The labor laws allow certain victims to file personal injury lawsuits against the party or parties they believe are responsible if the accident causing their injuries qualifies under the statute.
Depending on the facts of your case and the circumstances leading to your injury, your case may qualify to file a lawsuit against the parties at fault for your injuries.
A New York construction accident attorney can help you understand the options available and discuss with you who may be liable for your injuries and losses under the law.
The Damages You Can Pursue in a Lawsuit for a New York Construction Accident
It could be in the best interest of some construction worker victims to pursue a lawsuit when there is negligence or a violation of the labor laws because personal injury lawsuits allow for the recovery of significantly more damage categories than a traditional worker’s compensation claim.
For example, a lawsuit’s purpose after a personal injury is not just to help a victim get by but to make you whole through compensation for certain losses. An attorney who works with and understands construction accident cases can advise you on the best avenues available for seeking compensation.
Potential compensation you may be eligible for in a construction accident injury lawsuit:
- Costs for medical care
- Loss of wages
- Future loss of wages and medical expenses
- Loss of potential income
- Pain and suffering
Who May I Hold Liable for an Injury While on the Job at a Construction Site?
The first party that commonly comes to mind as the cause of your injuries after a construction accident is your employer, but that is not the only party that could be responsible for your injury and damages. A construction site comprises various entities and roles, each with its projects and responsibilities.
While your employer and the site owner must uphold their duty of care to you as a worker and keep you safe, there are instances where another contractor or agent working on the site is the source of the negligence leading to your injuries. When you hire an attorney to represent you in your case, they will take great care in investigating the accident and parties involved to identify all the parties that could be liable to you.
When Can You File a Worker’s Compensation Claim for a Construction Injury?
In instances where a lawsuit may not be appropriate, a construction accident victim is likely to be able to file a worker’s compensation claim. Worker’s compensation claims do not depend on fault determinations. A worker is most likely eligible to file a claim any time they suffer an injury while they are carrying out their duties and responsibilities during their job.
Before deciding to file a worker’s compensation, you should consult a construction accident attorney. Filing a worker’s comp claim in certain instances can preclude you from filing a lawsuit after the fact. While a worker’s compensation claim is beneficial to help a worker after suffering injuries in certain situations, the compensation available to a worker is not the same as a personal injury lawsuit.
Furthermore, worker’s compensation claims are quite complex. Ensuring that a claim undergoes the proper filing process with the necessary supporting evidence is essential to prevent unwarranted delays and complications. A constructions accident attorney can help you file a lawsuit if possible in your case and can also help you file a worker’s compensation claim if that is the best option for you.
The compensation you can seek as part of a New York worker’s compensation claim includes:
- Payment of your medical treatment for work-related injuries
- A portion of your wages calculated based on your injury
How Do You Know What Option is Best in Your Construction Accident Injury Case?
After suffering an injury at a construction site, you are likely in pain and overwhelmed by the unexpected interruption to your ability to work and provide for yourself or your family.
Knowing how to proceed in your case and what you legally should do is something that requires the assistance of a knowledgeable and qualified construction accident attorney. Knowing when you may file a lawsuit or when a worker’s compensation claim is your best option can present challenges.
Hiring a construction accident attorney will help you make sure you protect your rights and take the appropriate steps to keep all options possible for you to seek compensation for your losses.
When Do You Need a New York Construction Accident Attorney to Represent You?
As soon as possible. You should not delay scheduling a free consultation with a New York accident injury attorney. Instead, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and how they can help you fight for the compensation you need to recover from your injuries and help you pay for your living expenses while you cannot work.
In addition, there are statutory laws limiting the time you have to file a personal injury suit in court. Additionally, worker’s compensation claims have many requirements and timelines that the claimant must follow to ensure the claim remains valid and not denied.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.