Scaffold Accident Lawsuits In New York

New York makes sure that some of its hardest working citizens, construction workers, are kept safe by enforcing strict safety standards for the construction and use of scaffolding. If those standards are not met, the party responsible is made to answer for their negligence via the “Scaffolding Law”.

  • $2.6 Million – fractured ribs and spinal injury in fall from scaffold
  • $2.7 Million – broken leg after trip over scaffold support base
  • 1.75 Million – fractured pelvis in scaffold fall
  • $1.5 Million – back and ankle injuries after scaffolding fall
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On September 1st, 2015, 30-year-old Juan Cerezo was doing facade work on the side of an Upper East Manhattan building when he fell fourteen floors to the sidewalk below. He was pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.

The company he was working for has had four complaints filed against it in the last year, two of which are for scaffolding not being up to code or breaking.

Unfortunately, occurrences like this one are more common than they should be. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), there are about 2.3 million construction workers in the United States at any given time. Of those 2.3 million, almost 65% work on scaffolding. Statistics show that on average 60 deaths and 4,500 injuries occur while working on scaffolding every year.

The attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus, & Moverman P.C. believe that employers and third-parties responsible for upholding the safety standards of the scaffold should be held liable for their negligence.

New York Scaffolding Law

The laws governing safety standards for scaffolds are clear. OSHA monitors these safety requirements including the design, construction, and use of the scaffolds.

There are many kinds of scaffolds, all falling into two categories: supported or suspended. The standards that OSHA has set in place can be found here. OSHA requirements address:

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Federal Safety Standards For Scaffolding

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  • Strength criteria- all scaffolding must be strong enough to carry four times the maximum weight it will actually carry while in use.
  • Balancing components including counterweights.
  • Rigging’s
  • Direct connections / connecting hardware to roofs and floors.
  • Spacing between platform units.
  • Width of walkways.
  • Distance from the structure being worked on.
  • Guardrail requirements – a rail must extend the entire length of the scaffolding and around both ends. Only openings necessary to deliver materials are allowed. The railing must have a minimum height of 34 inches above the scaffold and be properly secured.

Common Scaffolding Injuries Grey scale Roof Plate

Scaffolding injuries can be horrific and the damage done can last a lifetime or be potentially fatal. These injuries include:

  • Broken bones: a fall from scaffolding can easily result in broken or fractured bones in any part of the body.
  • Amputations: falling debris, broken planks, or sheered metal can sever limbs or cause enough damage that there is a need for amputation.
  • Impalement: Sharp pieces of wood or metal can impale the body in a fall.
  • Spinal Cord injuries: Any blunt trauma, either caused by a fall or falling debris, can hurt the spinal cord. This may result in partial or full paralysis.
  • Brain injuries: as with spinal cord injuries, the brain can be damaged by a fall or blunt force trauma. Swelling, bleeding, hemorrhaging, and skull fractures can lead to a coma or even death.

What Causes Scaffolding Accidents?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2010, 11% of all fatal work injuries occurred because of a fall to a lower level.

The BLS also reported that in 72% of workers that were injured in scaffolding accidents, the accident was caused either by the planking or support giving way, the employee slipping, or being struck by a falling object. The majority of these accidents can be avoided with the proper implementation of safety standards and thorough on the job training.

Due to the high-risk nature of work on scaffolds, the state of New York has implemented specific laws regarding how scaffolding should be set up and maintained.

Legal Rights of Injured Scaffolding Workers

Despite the legal requirements, construction companies continue to ignore the safety of their workers in order to save time and money.

In many instances, attorney’s are able to apply Section 240 and 241 of the New York Labor Law. This law is specific to injuries that occur on construction sites and involve scaffolding, as well as other equipment.

Under the 240, property owners and contractors are held legally liable for the safety of any:

  • Scaffolding
  • Hoists
  • Stays
  • Ladders
  • Pulleys
  • Ropes
  • Braces
  • Hangers

The law is considered to have a “strict liability” policy which means the burden of proof is placed on the defendant to show they were not negligent. Normally, it would fall on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant had been negligent.

Why Should I Pursue A Lawsuit?

After an accident, employees usually turn to the Workers Compensation System for help in dealing with medical expenses and lost wages. However, as the Department of Labor reported in January of 2015, 53% of all workers are denied compensation benefits in New York.

Even if the benefits are awarded, workers comp can only cover a small percentage of your lost wages and necessary medical expenses. Workers comp does not provide coverage for pain and suffering or emotional distress.

For victims or loved ones of a victim who has died in a scaffolding accident, the best choice may be to contact a construction accident attorney to pursue legal action.

Scaffolding Accident Attorneys

The attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus, & Moverman P.C. are experienced in bringing personal injury lawsuits to trial and have successfully represented New York’s injured workers for a combined 80 years.

In one case where Marc Eli Freund, Esq. represented a 50-year-old construction worker after he fell from a scaffold, injuring his back and ankle, the verdict awarded the plaintiff $1.5 million dollars in compensation.

While all cases are different, you can be sure that our attorney’s will fight tirelessly so that you can receive the justice and compensation that you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.