New York Construction Accident Lawsuit

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New York Construction Accident Lawsuits are filed when a construction worker suffers an injury or dies under circumstances that could and should have been preventable according to safe building practices. Injured workers or their families win these lawsuits when employers fail to provide proper safety equipment or promote safe working conditions. When a construction worker suffers an injury or death on the job, a construction accident lawsuit can help recover money for lost wages, medical care, pain and suffering.

Were you injured in a construction accident fall? Discover your legal options today

Why File a New York Construction Accident Lawsuit?

According to a recent report, New York City construction accidents increased by more than 10% in 2018, with worker falls constituting more than a quarter of those accidents. Unfortunately for NYC construction workers, the risk of a fall during the course of their day-to-day job has increased steadily over time. The average NYC building towers over 450 feet tall, and half of falls from only 72 feet result in death. Despite strictly enforced state and federal regulations designed to hold construction sites and their managers to strict safety standards, accidents still happen all too frequently.

Both New York State and the City of New York have imposed comprehensive construction safety laws in addition to those enforced by federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). General contractors, construction companies and building owners are legally responsible for the health, safety, and lives of the employees working on their construction sites. When these companies are negligent, laws hold them responsible for compensating the injured worker for any injuries suffered as a result of that negligence.

A fall from a ladder, scaffold or any height can cause serious injuries, resulting in substantial medical bills, lost wages, and other financial hardships for the victim. A New York construction accident lawsuit can help victims offset some of the unexpected costs and continue providing for their families while they recover after a fall from a building, scaffolding, or other height.

Types of Construction Accidents

  • Excavation/Soil Work
  • Material Fell
  • Mechanical Construction Equipment
  • Scaffold / Shed / Fence / Shoring / Installation
  • Worker Fell
  • Other

Source: New York City Department of Buildings

New York Construction Accident Injuries Due to Falling From Height

The City of New York reported almost 200 construction worker falls in 2018, making them the second most common method of injury in the NYC construction industry. In general, the further a person falls, the more severe their injuries are likely to be. Though the method of impact varies based upon how the person falls, most accidental fall victims end up taking the brunt of the force on their lower limbs - legs, hips, knees and feet. One study shows that almost 60% of injuries sustained during a fall from height occur at the pelvis level or lower, but that leaves plenty of damage for the upper body and internal organs as well.

Fall From Height Injuries

Construction workers can fall from scaffolding, a roof, a ladder or internal structures like elevator shafts on any given day, possibly sustaining a variety of serious injuries.

  • Bone fracture
  • Head injury
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Skull fracture
  • Broken ribs
  • Hemothorax
  • Internal organ damage
  • Pelvis fracture
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal fracture
  • Other back injuries
  • Epidural hematoma
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cardiac or aortic rupture
  • Internal Bleeding

Physical injuries caused by a fall from height can be extensive, causing some to suffer from long-lasting mental and emotional damage as well. Even in cases where individuals fall a short distance without injury (i.e., scaffold malfunction), they can become trapped on or underneath equipment or debris, requiring search and rescue. Workers injured in this way can develop post-traumatic stress disorder and suffer a long and troubling road to recovery, with many requiring long-term physical and/or psychological therapy.

Some people who fall from a height survive their injuries only to face the prospect of living on long-term or even permanent disability. Workers who suffer a fall on a construction site during the course of employment may be entitled to worker's compensation benefits. However, these benefits only cover a portion of lost wages and medical expenses. They do not provide any compensation for the pain and suffering associated with the worker's injuries.

What to Do After a New York Construction Accident

The most important thing after any construction accident is to get everyone to safety and seek medical attention for all injuries. Once everyone's physical well-being has been preserved, it's important to document and formally report the circumstances that caused the accident. These details can assist with filing insurance and workers compensation claims, as well as lawsuits.

New York Construction Accident Laws

The State of New York has multiple laws aimed at protecting construction workers. According to one court opinion, construction workers "are scarcely in a position to protect themselves from accident," requiring the legal system to place that burden on both their direct employers and the building owners who employ them. Though Labor Law 200 requires all employers to reasonably protect the lives, health, and safety of their employees, other laws specifically address the safety of individuals working more than twenty feet from the ground.

Labor Law 240: The Scaffold Law

New York's Labor Law 240, aka The Scaffold Law, assigns responsibility for providing protective equipment and safe working conditions for any project at height to both general contractors and building owners. It mandates safe installation and maintenance of equipment like scaffolds, pulleys, hoists, ropes, and other devices used in construction projects working more than twenty feet off the ground. It has generated a substantial amount of controversy, as New York construction accident lawsuits arising from Labor Law 240 have commonly resulted in awards worth millions of dollars. Opponents of Labor Law 240 have suggested its open-ended liability prevents small businesses from competing in the New York construction industry.

Labor Law 241 and Labor Law 241-A

Construction workers can encounter danger even outside the confines of tall building exteriors and scaffolding installations. Labor Law 241 and Labor Law 241-A address safety requirements for workers in these environments, requiring protection of elevator shafts and multi-story framing projects where incorrect safety protocol could allow a person to fall several stories within an incomplete building structure.

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New York Construction Accident Lawsuits

In 2012, 14 of the 30 largest settlements in the state of New York involved construction accidents, most involving falls from scaffolding, ladders, or other heights. In many states, the injured worker must prove the injury was not their fault in order to recover compensation for their injuries. But the situation is different in New York. According to New York Labor Law 240, the injured worker may still recover compensation for his or her injuries, even if the accident results in part from the worker's own negligent failure to use safety equipment or follow job site rules. Instead, the contractor and building owner assume full responsibility for the injured worker's safety at the work site, regardless of the worker's compliance with safety regulations.

Injured workers in New York are afforded special protections from multiple state laws. New York workers injured due to a fall from a building, scaffold, ladder or any height may recover large sums of money to compensate for their injuries.

Types of New York Construction Accident Claims

Depending on the type of accident, the nature of a victim's relationship with the contractor or building owner, and the extent of the injury, an individual injured in a fall from a height may give rise to a personal injury claim, a worker's compensation claim or both. Worker's compensation benefits are usually capped and may not provide enough coverage for the injured party.

Even if an injured construction worker has applied for worker's compensation benefits, he or she may still receive substantial additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.

New York Construction Accident Claims

Personal Injury Claims: filed by individuals hurt in a construction accident fall
Wrongful Death Claims: filed by the loved ones of an individual who died due to a construction accident fall

New York Construction Accident Damages

Judges or juries award damages to an individual whose lawsuit adequately proves they were harmed by the bad acts of the defendant. Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages seen in New York construction accident lawsuits, but punitive damages may apply in certain situations. Compensatory damages can cover a multitude of accident-related expenses.

Compensatory Damages in New York Construction Accidents

  • Ambulance Costs
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Future Lost Earnings
  • Future Medical Costs
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Trauma
  • Loss of Opportunity

New York Construction Accident Settlements

Each year NYC reports hundreds of construction site accidents involving a fall from a building, scaffolding, or other height. Some New York Construction accident lawsuits have resulted in substantial compensation for the injured construction workers.

Weislaw Lawsuit - $2.7 Million Settlement

A construction employee repairing the roof of a one-story building on Long Island suffered multiple injuries after falling from the roof. His lawyer argued that the employer failed to provide adequate safety equipment, and the case ultimately settled for $2.7 million.

Petrides Lawsuit - $6.3 Million Settlement

Brian Petrides suffered a 20-foot fall from scaffolding while working at a Brooklyn public school work site, leaving him with extensive injuries and lifelong disabilities. He settled his lawsuit for $6.3 million in 2014.

Wozny Lawsuit - $7.5 Million

Lucas Wozny sustained a foot injury after a terrifying construction site accident sent him plummeting to the scaffolding floor. Due to his New York scaffolding fall, Mr. Wozny now suffers from reflex sympathy dystrophy, causing him to permanently walk with a crutch and depend on prescription painkillers. An NYC jury awarded him $7.5 million, but due to a pretrial agreement, Wozny only took home $2.5 million.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a New York Construction Accident Lawyer?

After a construction-related fall from any height, it's important to consider your legal options promptly after getting appropriate medical treatment and informing work supervisors or employers of the accident.

How Much Will a New York Construction Accident Lawyer Cost?

Most construction accident lawsuits are filed on contingency, meaning that the individual filing will not have to pay a cent in legal expenses until he or she is awarded some form of compensation from the lawsuit.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive for a New York Construction Accident Lawsuit?

Every situation is different, meaning awards and settlements for construction accident lawsuits vary greatly. With legitimate cases, it is not unusual to see settlements and verdicts in the range of several million dollars.

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