Can I Sue For A Construction Accident?

Construction workers – past, present, and future – are the people who built the City of New York from the foundation up. Without them, New York City wouldn’t exist. But with this type of work comes great risk to the workers.

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Construction Accidents In New York

Surrounded by heavy machinery, falling objects, and working at great heights are just some of the risks associated with construction work. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more than 20% of all work-related fatalities in 2013 were employed in the construction industry.

Shockingly, after these accidents, a high percentage of employees are denied coverage by workers compensation insurance. So where do the injured turn to for help when they are weighed down by medical expenses, lost wages, and physical pain and suffering? In some cases, a construction lawsuit may be the best option. The lawyers at the Lipsig Firm are here to help you understand the benefits of pursuing legal action.

Types Of Construction Accidents

Scaffolding Accidents

New York has very strict requirements for both supported and suspended scaffolding. OSHA has estimated that almost 65% of all construction workers perform jobs on scaffolding every year. To learn more about scaffolding accidents and injuries, click here.

Ladder Accidents

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In a study performed by the CDC which was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers found that 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involved a ladder. Those who survive can have injuries that cause life-long pain. To learn more about ladder accidents and injuries, follow this link.

Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common accidents on any construction site. Not only are workers surrounded by tools and debris, but often they are carrying objects that make it impossible for them to watch where they are stepping. To learn more about slip, trip, and fall accidents, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Construction Accidents men working on the scafolding

What Should I Do After A Construction Accident?

You may be confused about how to proceed after a construction accident occurs – in addition to emotional and physical pain, you may also be worrying about your family, your ability to return to work, and how to pay your bills if you need to take time off.

Your employer may immediately pressure you into making decisions that would be more beneficial to them. They are already thinking about the possibility of a workers compensation claim and the risk of their insurance rates rising if you make a claim.

In order to protect yourself and your family following a contraction accident, you should:

  • Immediately Seek Medical Attention – Your health is the first priority. Don’t wait. If your employer offers you on-site care, you can accept it but then go to your own physician for an independent consultation.
  • Collect Documentation – Make sure that you keep copies of all documents that any medical professionals you see make. If possible, collect witness statements from anyone who saw your accident. Take photographs of anything pertaining to the accident – including any injuries you have suffered.
  • Contact An Experienced Attorney – While your employer may want to pay for your care out of pocket to avoid filing a claim or using workers comp to provide you care, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney. If your accident was caused by another person’s negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The attorney’s at The Lipsig Firm offer a free initial consultation for all injured workers in New York. Contact us today to speak with an experienced attorney about your situation.

Do I Have To Inform My Employer?

Yes. New York State’s Workers Compensation Board mandates that all workers injured on the job must inform their employer in writing within 30 days of the accident. If you don’t report your accident in the appropriate amount of time, you run the risk of not being able to collect workers comp benefits.

There are Federal and State laws in place to protect you from employer retaliation. If your employer cuts your hours, wages, or benefits, they are breaking the law and can be held accountable.

Should I Speak With An Insurance Company?

You are not legally required to describe the accident or the events leading up to the accident to an insurance company without a lawyer. Retaining a lawyer is often the right decision, as any statements you do make can be used to reduce or deny your benefits.

If your workers compensation insurance contacts you, you should tell them that you wish to consult a lawyer first.

What Will Workers Compensation Cover?

Lost Wages

Lost wages are calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Then that amount is multiplied by a percentage which represents how disabled you are.

This benefit is received only if you are unable to work for longer than seven days. If you can’t work for longer than fourteen days, you may or may not receive compensation for that first week.

Medical Expenses

Workers compensation with cover all care that directly relates to your workplace injury. This coverage includes surgical procedures, prescriptions, and diagnostic testing.

If you require public transportation or a taxi to go to doctors appointments, the insurance can also cover this, but you need to save all receipts.

Death Benefits

If the worker dies as a result of a workplace injury, surviving dependents are entitled to a weekly cash benefit, equal to two-thirds of the decedent’s weekly wage.

Funeral expenses are also covered. In New York City, the maximum amount allowed for funeral expenses is $6,000.

What If My Employer Doesn’t Have Worker’s Compensation Insurance?

If your employer isn’t covered by workers compensation insurance, you have the right to file a lawsuit in order to receive compensation for your injuries and losses.

In filing a lawsuit, you are able to demand the full amount of your damages rather than living under the cap set by New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Board.

What Is New York’s “Scaffold Law”?

New York is unique. The labor laws include the “Scaffold Law” which gives workers the right to sue their employers for negligence after accidents on any equipment that raises you above the ground, including scaffolding and ladders.

What Does “Fair & Adequate Compensation” Mean?

The bottom line is workers comp will only provide you with a minimal compensation. Aside from medical expenses, you will only receive a fraction of what you may have earned while working.

If you chose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you will have a wider range of damages to claim. The point of a lawsuit it to return you to the quality of life that you had before you accident or at least as much as possible.

Examples of damages you could receive compensation for:

Past and Future Medical Expenses

Workers comp pays “as you go”. But because you’ll need to seek your insurer’s authorization before most surgical procedures, you are at risk for a denial.

Your personal doctor can help to estimate the cost of your care for the days, months, and years ahead. These usually include procedures, prescriptions, rehabilitation services, and the costs of necessary equipment like a wheelchair.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

Workers comp will only give you a fraction of the wages you lost by being unable to work. If you are permanently disabled, New York only requires the insurance to cover your lost wages for a maximum of ten years.

In a civil lawsuit, you can pursue full compensation that will make up for your lost earning capacity.

Pain & Suffering

Workers comp will never compensate you for your pain and suffering. Compensation via a lawsuit for pain and suffering covers the sheer hardship of experiencing pain as well as the psychological damages of a serious accident.

Loss of Consortium

If your spouse has been affected by your injury, you may be awarded damages to compensate your loved one for the loss of relationships pleasures and security.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendants and deter similar behavior. This is applied in cases when the negligence of a defendant is deemed particularly appalling.

How Much Will It Cost To Hire A Lawyer?

Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay anything until we win your case. If we win, our fees will be paid out of the damages secured via a settlement or verdict. If we don’t win, you pay us nothing.

Latest Construction Updates

Tom J. Moverman - Lipsig Lawyers
The following is information pertaining to various construction accidents, how and where they took place as well as lawsuits and settlements.

September 13, 2018 – Crane Accident In Hell’s Kitchen Causes Traffic Problems

A crane accident occurred on September 11, around 10 am at a construction site on 12th Street. A crane was being used to hoist a steel beam hit another steel beam at the site. Both beams collapsed onto scaffolding causing traffic to come to a halt. No injuries were reported and the Department of Buildings is investigating the accident.

August 21, 2018 – Fatal Scaffolding Accident On Construction Site In Manhattan

In mid-July a worker at a construction site in Upper Manhattan was working on the roof of the International House when a scaffolding beam fell, striking the worker in the head. Two other workers had been taking the scaffolding apart from above where the 28-year-old victim had been working. The 28-year-old worker was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment, where he was pronounced dead. The accident is being investigated by officials at the NYC Department of Building.

July 20, 2018 – Man Arrested For Drunk Driving Crane On Long Island Expressway

A 47-year-old crane operator was arrested after driving a crane down the Long Island Expressway while drunk on July 11. The 2000 Liebherr mobile crane was owned by a company called Bay Crane in Long Island City, NY. During his trip down the expressway, the crane operator crashed into several vehicles and did not stop at any of the accident scenes. The drivers of these vehicles suffered minor injuries and were brought to area hospitals for treatment.

June 26, 2018 – Construction Worker Severely Injured In Hit-And-Run Incident

A construction worker was severely injured when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Staten Island on Wednesday, May 30. The man was directing vehicles into a construction parking lot when he was clipped by a trailer attached to a gray Chevrolet Silverado. He suffered full-body abrasions and his leg was shattered in three places. His leg is currently being held together with several rods. No arrest have yet been made in the incident.

May 23, 2018 – City Settles On Terms For Construction Safety Training

This month, the NYC Department of Buildings decided on terms of the new construction training requirements mandated by a construction safety law signed in October 2017. According to the de Blasio administration, all construction workers must undergo at least 40 hours of safety training – the lowest required threshold. The maximum allowable training time would have been 55 hours.

Tens of thousands of construction workers were required to take a 10-hour safety course by March. By the end of 2018, workers need to have completed 30 hours of training and complete an additional 10 hours of coursework approved by the city after the law is fully phased in by the city in May 2019.

April 24, 2018 – 3 People Injured In Brooklyn Heights Scaffolding Collapse

One construction worker and two pedestrians were injured after a 20-foot section of scaffolding collapsed in Brooklyn Heights on Saturday, April 14. The accident occurred at around 10:30 am as construction workers were dismantling the scaffolding. The section collapsed onto Joralemon Street outside of a Starbucks and near the Borough Hall subway station. The NYC Department of Buildings is currently investigating the accident and has cited the company for failure to safeguard persons and property during a construction operation.

March 27, 2018 – New Construction Safety Law Goes Into Effect In NYC

A new construction safety law passed and signed into law in October of 2017 went into effect on March 1. This law was passed in response to the epidemic of construction site accidents, injuries, and deaths. In 2017 alone, there was a total of 645 accidents and 666 injuries, along with 12 fatal accidents.

According to the new law, workers must receive between 40-55 hours of training and supervisors must receive between 60-75 hours. Workers and supervisors are also required to have written safety plans.

February 28, 2018 – Construction Company Owner Dies In West New York Work Accident

The owner of a Jersey City construction company died in an accident on a job site in West New York on February 4th. The accident occurred at around 1 pm at a site on 54th Street. The 64-year-old man fell from a ladder and died from severe head trauma.

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the cause of the accident. The man’s company had no prior history of OSHA inspection violations.

January 31, 2018 – Construction Worker Falls To Death While Working In Manhattan

A 33-year-old construction worker fell to his death, plummeting nine stories through an elevator shaft on January 23, 2018. The worker was not attached to a safety line when he fell almost 100 feet at the job site at E. 24th St. near Park Ave. in Gramercy Park. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Fellow workers were in tears following the accident, and one foreman said that the site was non-union. The Department of Buildings issued a stop-work order and an investigation into the accident is ongoing.

December 27, 2017 – Woman Injured By Collapsed Scaffolding Files $50 Million Lawsuit

An ex-model who was severely injured after being crushed by collapsed scaffolding in Manhattan last month is filing a $50 million lawsuit over her injuries. The woman was walking near 568 Broadway on November 19th when she was struck by beams and metal sheets that were torn from the building by strong winds.

The woman is suing the owner of the building, its management company, and the firm handling the renovations. She was one of several pedestrians trapped underneath the debris. Her spine was broken in several places.

According to the lawsuit, the city’s Department of Buildings had warned contractors to secure the materials because of the high winds.

November 1, 2017 – 2 Construction Workers Injured When Wall Collapses At Queens Recycling Plant

Two construction workers were injured on Saturday, October 28th after a wall collapsed at a Queens recycling plant. The wall avalanched onto a Mack truck inside Royal Waste Services and debris fell onto two workers in the facility. The plant was being renovated when the accident occurred.

One of the injured workers suffered a broken ankle, while the other suffered minor injuries. Both workers were transported to Jamaica Hospital for treatment.

The Department of Buildings issued a partial vacate order on the building for a structural stability inspection.

October 26, 2017 – Queens Construction Workers Dies After Fall From Roof

A 60-year-old man died in a construction accident in Queens on Thursday, October 19th. He was installing solar panels on a two-story home in Corona at around 11:30 a.m. when he fell from the roof.

The man was brought to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. A permit for the installation of the panels had been approved earlier in the month. The Department of Buildings issued a stop work order after the accident on Thursday.

The incident is currently being investigated by local authorities in cooperation with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

September 14, 2017- Construction Worker Dies From A Saw Accident

On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, a construction worker died while working at a house in Troy, Michigan. According to police, the worker was removing an inground pool when the accident took place. He was carrying a portable saw and it looks as though the accident happened as a result of him losing control of the saw. Police stated that the saw kicked back up and cut his throat. The construction worker was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

August 4, 2017- Construction Worker Dies From Fall On A Job Site

A construction worker reportedly fell from an upper floor of a building on a construction site and died on the scene of the accident. The accident happened in College Park on Thursday, 3 August, 2017. Prince George’s County Fire Department responded to a call at a building under construction at the University of Maryland, but the construction worker was already dead. Foul play is not suspected, but the death is under investigation.

July 17, 2017- Metal Plate Falls From Manhattan Construction Site Onto Busy Sidewalk

A large metal plate fell on the sidewalk in busy Manhattan. The large plate was being installed on a building near Columbus Circle when it fell. Streets around the huge Midtown construction site ended up being closed for hours while FDNY figured out how to secure a two-ton load of glass that got stuck between the 17th floor and a construction elevator. The 4,000-pound load of glass remained steady, however, a large metal plate and pieces from the hoist fell 17 stories into traffic on West 58th Street. Fortunately, this pieces missed people and cars.

June 15, 2017- Two Crane Lifts Fall At Construction Site

Two scissor lifts fell over and seriously hurt at least two workers on a construction site near Northwest 57th Avenue and Blue Lagoon Drive in Miami-Dade. The hurt workers were rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. One of the injured workers was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center. The cause of the crane accident was not immediately known and a spokesperson for TIAA-CREF stated that they were looking into what caused the accident to happen.

May 18, 2017- Crowbar Falls From High Rise Building And Injures One Person

In East Side Manhattan, a crowbar fell from a building that was under construction and struck a taxi. The crowbar fell 35 stories down and caused the driver of the cab to be sent to the hospital. According to the NYC Department of Buildings, the crowbar fell more than 30 floors, caved in the car’s roof, shattered the windshield and injured the cab driver. This is the second accident to take place at the same construction site. Before this incident, the roof of a hoist came loose while wood was being moved to the 21st floor of the building.

April 6, 2017- Construction Worker Killed In In A Structural Collapse

A 51-year-old construction worker was killed in a structural collapse in California. The worker was taking his lunch break in a trench. According to the county Medical Examiner’s Office, the collapse took place when a concrete-block wall that was next to a residential yard fell on the man. He died at the scene of the accident. Emergency crews tried to cut through the 6-by 20-foot wall for over an hour in an effort to get the man’s body out. One of the man’s co-workers suffered minor injuries in the collapse. As is standard in fatal workplace accidents, OSHA had to be called in to investigate this tragic accident.

March 9, 2017- New Jersey Man Dies In Cement Mixer

Recently, a worker died at a work site in Wayne, NY. The man died in a cement-mixer and according to officials, the mixer was not in use at the time the accident happened. Initial reports reveal that the man was cleaning out the cement mixer and ended up getting trapped under the mixer’s drum. The man was crushed by the body of the truck. The accident was responded to by the regional medical examiner and the Wayne Fire Department.

February 28, 2017- Worker Trapped In Construction Accident

In Northwest D.C. a worker was trapped when a trench collapsed. Crews at the scene quickly set up support around the accident in order to prevent an additional collapse. This accident is still under investigation. DC Fire confirmed that the accident changed from a rescue operation to a recovery operation. The operation is going to be extended due to the instability of the trench.

January 12, 2016- Worker Falls Down Elevator Shaft At Manhattan Construction Site

A 30-year-old man fell down an elevator shaft at a Manhattan construction site and died. The man fell from the third floor of the worksite and was taken to Lenox Hospital where he passed away. The Department of Buildings ordered the work at the site to stop and an investigation of the death is underway. Labor advocates are also continuing their efforts for more safety since the fall happened.

December 7, 2016- MTA Changing Rules Following Worker Death

The MTA has approved new changes to worker safety rules after a worker was fatally struck by a G train last month. The worker was setting up warning lanterns for a construction project when the accident occurred. The new rules now stipulate that train traffic will be stopped when transit workers are placing work-zone lights on a curve or a stretch of track that does not have space to escape a passing train. The National Transporation Safety Board led the investigation into the death of the construction flagger.

November 9, 2016- Manhattan DA Convicts Foreman Of Criminally Negligent Homicide

A Manhattan District Attorney has stated that a foreman for Sky Materials Corporation, is going to face up to four years in prison at his upcoming sentencing in December. He is being charged for his part in the death of a construction worker after he was buried alive at a Manhattan construction site in April 2015. The foreman was charged with sending the construction worker into an unsupported trench. Prosecutors further stated that the foreman was warned about the hazards of the unshored trench the morning of the accident. He was acquitted of manslaughter but was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

October 12, 2016- Construction Workers Shocked By Power Line

Two construction workers were shocked by electricity when a crane they were using hit a power line. Authorities said the crane they were working on was being used to lift and rotate material at a construction site. When the crane came into contact with power lines, the two workers at the base were shocked. Both of them were airlifted in serious condition.

September 8, 2016- Labor Day Weekend Crane Accident Leaves Construction Worker Dead

During the Labor Day weekend, a construction worker was killed while aboard a crane that was being disassembled. The accident took place in the Longwood Medical area. Boston police stated that they were notified of an accident involving a crane and that the worker was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Fellow construction workers were reportedly visibly shaken by this accident. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident as crane accidents have increased in recent years.

August 5, 2016- Excavation Accident Kills Construction Worker

In North Carolina, a 36-year-old construction worker was killed while installing an overflow pipe at a pond outside Rocky Mount. A State Department of Labor spokeswoman stated that the company the man was working for, was installing PVC piping inside a trench that was almost six feet deep when one of the sides collapsed. An investigation was opened to determine what happened and whether or not  worker safety standards were violated. The investigation will also look into whether or not a trench safety system was being used.

July 8, 2016- Strict Sentencing Wanted For Harco After The Death Of Construction Worker

A coalition of 22 groups is petitioning a New York judge to hand down the maximum sentence there could be to Harco Construction. Harco Construction faces charges that are connected to a construction worker’s death in 2015 at a Meatpacking District work site. A judge found Harco guilty of manslaughter, reckless endangerment and criminally negligent homicide of the 22-year-old construction worker. Harco attorneys are arguing against this ruling.

June 2, 2016- Scaffold Collapse Leaves Hartford Construction Worker Critically Injured

A 47-year-old construction worker was critically injured when he fell off the “rolling scaffold” he was working on. He fell more than 60 feet at the Hartford Hospital construction site he was working on. The accident is being investigated by Hartford Hospital, OSHA, and the construction contractor.

May 4, 2016- City Buildings Department Says Safety Violations Caused Worker’s Injuries

The city Buildings Department has cited safety violations were the cause of an accident where a construction worker was injured at Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze. The construction worker was critically injured on April 20th after he was struck in the head with an excavator. The city Buildings Department has since issued a full stop-work order for a construction project at the hospital site.

April 7, 2016- 45-Ton Beam Kills Construction Worker

In Des Plaines, IL, a construction worker was killed on April 5, 2016, after a bridge beam fell along I-90 over Touhy Avenue. Three other construction workers were injured. According to investigators with OSHA, the crew had been moving steel across the roadway and the load shifted, leading to the girder coming down. Forty-five tons of steel beam crashed onto the 47-year-old victim who died. Preliminary reports reveal that a strap chain that was meant to support the beam may have failed.

March 4, 2016- Big Settlement Awarded After Demo Construction Accident On Kyle Field

The family of a demolition worker, Angel Garcia, has been awarded a $53 million settlement for his death on Kyle Field in Texas. Garcia fell to his death on the site in 2013. Jurors in Houston discovered that two contractors who were working on the stadium renovation were negligent in this case. A section of concrete came loose which led to Garcia falling four stories and landing on the equipment he was operating.

February 10, 2016- Crane Collapse In Downtown Manhattan Killed One Person

A crane collapse that took place on Friday, February 5th, in downtown Manhattan killed one person. The crane that was more than 500-feet-tall was being secured when there was already high winds and inclement weather to contend with. Several other people were injured due to this collapse. The crane is owned by Bay Crane, a company that has had machines involved in other high-profile crane accidents in the city. The accident investigation is still ongoing.

January 25, 2016- Alabama Workers Exposed To Serious Hazards Leading To Injuries

A Genpak facility in Hope Full has been cited for leaving workers exposed to dangerous hazards. The hazards caused two serious injuries within a space of 10 months. The dangers the workers faced left them exposed to explosions, falls, and amputations.

One worker suffered the partial amputation of a ring finger and another suffered serious burns after the forklift he was using ignited butane vapors that created an explosion in a shipping trailer. Genpak faces more than $103,000 in penalties.

December 31, 2015- Williamsburg Luxury Building Owner Sued By Construction Worker

The owner of a luxury Williamsburg apartment building is being sued by a construction worker. The city evacuated the building before Thanksgiving. The construction worker states that he fell from scantily erected scaffolding while doing work that does not exist in city records. The man, Alvin Eugene, claims that he was part of a crew hired to build out bathrooms. He fell while working because of defective and poorly maintained scaffolding which was also not very secure. His injuries caused him to not be fit for work for seven months.

December 23, 2015-  Family Files Lawsuit On Behalf Of Man Killed During Baylor Business School Construction

A 51-year-old electrician was killed when he was crushed by a falling elevator in the middle of the construction of Baylor University’s new business school. His wife has filed a lawsuit against the general contractor, a subcontractor, and two supervisors alleging that they acted with “reckless disregard” for the risk of bodily injury. It has also been stated that the man’s death was completely preventable.