Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

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When you’re injured in a construction accident, and you seek to obtain a summary judgment on the issue of a defendant’s (or defendants’) liability, there are several things that you need to do. One of those likely things is providing your own statement on the record about exactly what happened and how you were injured. Additionally, if you have any co-workers who saw the accident and can back up your version of events, then it is important to identify them and to get their testimony on the record, too, so this proof can also bolster your case. Whether it is seeking evidence through discovery, getting statements on the record (through depositions, affidavits or otherwise) or compiling your evidence into a winning summary judgment motion, a skilled New York construction injury attorney can help you navigate the process and do the things necessary to achieve a positive result.

One Brooklyn construction worker’s injury case was an example in completing these processes properly. In the fall of 2012, a worker named R.P. and his co-workers were disassembling a grid of posts and girders that held plywood sheets in place. While doing his job, R.P. was struck in the head by a plywood sheet that fell down from the first floor ceiling. The sheet that crashed into R.P.’s head measured 4’ by 8’ and caused the worker to suffer significant injuries.

In R.P.’s case, he and his legal team did the things necessary to earn a summary judgment. R.P. gave a deposition describing the accident. He obtained an affidavit from a co-worker who saw the accident happen. The co-worker’s affidavit was particularly helpful for R.P., as that co-worker stated that he saw another worker remove a vertical post 20-30 minutes before the accident, which left a 4-by-8 piece of plywood unsecured in the ceiling. The co-worker also stated that there was no caution tape put up in the area where R.P. was walking when he was hit. (This evidence was a potential aid in defeating any possible defense argument that R.P. was somewhere he shouldn’t have been when the accident took place.)

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When you are injured while engaged in certain types of work, the array of legal bases upon which you can pursue compensation in New York may vary. For some tasks, a workplace injury may open the door to seek an award of damages under one or both of two New York Labor Law statutes: Sections 240(1) and 241(6). These laws are very important for protecting workers who suffer construction accidents due to falls, falling objects or a failure to follow the state’s safety regulations. Even if you weren’t a “hard hat” moving 1,000-pound steel I-beams, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your work isn’t covered by these laws. And, even if you were the only witness to your accident, that also doesn’t mean you cannot achieve a successful result. To find out more about your options for seeking compensation, reach out to an experienced New York construction injury attorney.

Here’s an example from Manhattan that was decided by the Appellate Division last summer. B.C. was a man whose work duties included maintenance of the sprinklers of a building in Chelsea. One day, while working on the sprinklers, B.C. fell off a six-foot A-frame ladder, suffering substantial injuries in the fall. B.C. asserted that he was tightening a bolt when the ladder shifted, and that was what caused his fall.

B.C. sued the building’s owner under Section 240(1). This is a law that says that workers are entitled to adequate safeguards to protect them from falls and from being struck by falling objects. (It’s also sometimes called the “Scaffold Law.”) The building owner, as a key part of its defense, tried to persuade the court that the work that B.C. was doing wasn’t covered by the statute. The law says that it covers erection, demolition, repairs, alterations, painting and cleaning of a building or structure.

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For any construction worker injured on the job, but especially for those facing major damages, it is vital to be sure that you go about pursuing your court case the right way. It is essential that you file on time, that you include all of the legal claims allowed, and that you name as defendants all of the entities and people who might be liable and owe you compensation. Make a mistake on any of these and you may cost yourself a portion of the compensation you deserve–or you may cost yourself your case entirely.

It is also important to take advantage of the legal tools at your disposal. One of the key ones is summary judgment. A summary judgment decision that finds a defendant liable means that you have won on the question of liability without having to have a full trial on that issue, which can save you time, money and stress. For reliable aid in using these and other tools in navigating the legal process, be sure to retain the services of a knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorney.

For an example of successful navigation of a construction law case, there’s the lawsuit filed by L.S., who was a sheet metal worker working on a project in Manhattan. While working on the building’s sixth floor, L.S. fell through a hole in the floor and crashed all the way down to the fifth floor. The worker’s injuries were considerable, having hurt his spine, ribs, back, left thumb, left elbow, neck, teeth, both feet, both ankles and both shoulders.

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As a construction worker, you are often called upon to perform a variety of tasks where reaching the area upon which you must work is complicated. Traditional devices like lifts or scaffolds may not fit in the space available. When that happens, you may be forced to “get creative.” However, what happens when the improvised device you set up fails, you fall and suffer injuries? Does the fact that you put together your own improvised device necessarily mean that you are out of luck when it comes to obtaining compensation? As one recent case from upstate shows, the answer is “no!” Never just give up; instead, always consult a knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorney about your situation.

In the case referenced above, D.C. was a construction worker whom D.D. hired to install siding on a rental property that D.D. owned. The siding that the property owner wanted installed was to go above a staircase that ran along the side of the building. The owner agreed to rent a lift that D.C. could use for the job, but lifts were too big to fit in the area where D.C. would be working. There was also a “ladder jack” device, but it was in use elsewhere and, in addition, it (like the lift) wouldn’t have fit in the tight space. The owner did not provide D.C. with a conventional scaffold.

Faced with this difficulty, the worker created his own device. D.C. set up his A-frame ladder and then took a scaffolding plank and ran that plank from a rung of the ladder over to the top of the staircase. Neither the ladder nor the plank was anchored to anything. As a result, when D.C. began pushing siding into place, the improvised device slid out from beneath the worker and he fell, breaking his ankle.

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When you get hurt working a construction job in New York, the law provides certain opportunities for compensation in various situations. These situations can include, among others, falls or blows from falling objects. To achieve a successful outcome, you’ll need more than just evidence of your fall or the falling object. You’ll need proof that the work you were doing was of a type that is covered by the Labor Law statutes. Sometimes, the classification of the work you were doing can make all the difference between success and failure. To make sure you are providing the court the proof you need to get the compensation you deserve, retain a skilled New York construction injury attorney to handle your case.

An example of a lawsuit that turned upon this “type of work” issue was the case of T.M.’s accident. T.M. was a worker performing activities outside a hospital in the Bronx. In the summer, the hospital was cooled by a chiller unit, which the facility rented. That chiller sat atop a trailer situated on 173rd Street, utilizing hoses that sat on some scaffolding that was also situated on 173rd Street.

In early December 2012, T.M. and some co-workers were tasked with disconnecting the rented chiller. A co-worker experienced problems getting some wood free from underneath the trailer. As the men worked, a chain holding the chiller snapped and the eight-ton chiller slid off the trailer and onto T.M. The impact crushed and killed the worker.

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New York City is currently in the midst of a construction boom. In many ways, this is very good news. New construction can mean new housing options, new employment options and new opportunities of various types. For construction workers, it should mean a wealth of new job prospects and a steady stream of work. Unfortunately, it has also meant something else: a substantial uptick in the number of construction workers injured and killed on the job. It shouldn’t have to be this way, but that is the reality. Fortunately for workers and their families, New York law has an avenue for recovering an award of damages when a worker is hurt or killed due to inadequate safety on the job. If you’ve been hurt in an accident while working a New York City construction job, be sure you have the legal representation you need from a skilled New York injury attorney to get the compensation you deserve.

At the beginning of September, the New York Post published an article entitled “Construction accidents soar amid NYC building boom.” That article shared some depressing statistics. During the first seven months of 2018, twice as many construction workers died on the job in New York City as died in the first seven months of 2017. A total of nearly 500 men and women were injured in more than 450 construction accidents occurring from January to July 2018. These injury numbers represented a 17% uptick from the number of construction accident injuries occurring in the city from January to July 2017. (The Post obtained this information from the city’s Buildings Department.)

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recognizes what’s called the “fatal four,” which are the four leading causes of fatal construction accidents. These are falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and “caught in-betweens,” which are accidents where a worker is pinned or trapped and becomes caught, crushed or compressed.

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If you’ve been hurt while working at a construction job, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. The group of people or entities whom you can properly sue for that compensation may depend on the specific facts of your case. While the law allows you to seek compensation from the owner of the property and the general contractor on the job, the law may also allow you to pursue others if you can prove that the other person or entity legally qualified as an “agent” of the owner or the contractor. Talk to a knowledgeable New York construction accident attorney to learn more about your rights and your options.

An example of this issue of an “agent” was the New York City case of F.S. F.S.’ construction injury unfortunately occurred as far too many do; he fell from a scaffold. F.S. was working on a job at what was to be a mixed-use hotel and condo building. The building was owned by multiple companies. When you are injured at your construction job, especially if it is a larger job, the chances are high that there are numerous entities involved. Giving yourself the best chance of getting a full and fair recovery, then, means identifying all of the entities that are potentially liable to you and including them in your lawsuit. It also means identifying the ones that are not liable under the law and making sure that you don’t include them in your legal action.

At F.S.’ worksite, one firm served as the construction manager, and that company hired a different entity to serve as the safety consultant on the project. The safety consultant was one of the entities that the worker named in his Scaffold Law action. The safety consultant tried to get the court to dismiss it from the case, but it was not successful. The law allows injured construction workers to go after three groups of people under the Labor Law. One is the owners of the site. Another is the general contractor. A third is any entity that is an “agent” of either of the first two.

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Many people might think that the laws that potentially provide for compensation for construction site injuries only apply to people employed as construction workers. These laws, however, can apply to an array of different individuals. Many of them are construction workers, but not all are. If you have been injured at a construction site, even if you’re not a construction worker, it is worth your while to explore your options. Talk to a knowledgeable New York construction injury attorney to learn more about your potential case.

An example of this was the case of D., who was the owner of property on Long Island that included a single-family home. One June day in 2014, D. was at the property to inspect the work being performed by the construction firm he had retained to do some excavation work on the property (that was necessary prior to adding a room onto the home). D., while walking around the property, slipped and fell, suffering significant injuries.

D. sued the excavation company. His lawsuit alleged that his slip-and-fall was the result of oil that had leaked from a faulty hydraulic line of a backhoe that the excavating company had brought on the property.

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There are many ways that construction sites can be unsafe. Many times, when one thinks about construction site safety, one might think about safe scaffolding, proper fall protection, appropriate eyewear and head covering, or machinery and equipment that has been properly kept up and maintained. Sometimes, though, a workplace can be made unsafe simply by a failure to pick up debris and small supplies. When that happens, and you are injured as a result, you may have just as strong a case as if you fell from a defective scaffold. To learn more about your ability to recover compensation, talk to a knowledgeable New York construction accident attorney right away.

A case from the Bronx provides an example of how this can work. Derek was working at a job that required him to install sheetrock in a stairwell. While working, Derek tripped over an extension cord and fell down the stairs. He suffered substantial injuries and sued.

The injured worker advanced his case using a particular statute, Section 240(1), which is sometimes called the “Scaffold Law.” This law, however, lets injured workers sue in a variety of situations, beyond just circumstances that involve scaffolds. Generally, if you are a worker required to work on an elevated surface that is your only means of access to your work space, and you suffer injuries in a fall, you have the potential to pursue a lawsuit under this statute.

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In New York, in order to obtain compensation in a lawsuit filed under the Scaffold Law, your injury must have been gravity-related. Fortunately for injured workers, New York courts over the years have established a relatively broad definition of gravity-related. An object does not necessarily have to have fallen down or have swung upward in order for an accident to be gravity-related. The Court of Appeals has made it clear that, just because a worker and the object that injured him were on the same level, that does not automatically mean that the accident was not gravity-related. There are many different ways to succeed in a Scaffold Law case. To learn more about your options, talk to a knowledgeable New York construction accident attorney.

An example of a viable case that lacked a substantial elevation differential was the injury suffered by a worker named Jeff. Jeff was part of a crew hoisting a 1,000-pound steel beam. Specifically, Jeff was responsible for supervising the crew that was doing the actual hoisting, which was controlled by a mechanical switch. Jeff was reviewing blueprints when a crew member hit the hoist button prematurely, which sent the beam swinging toward Jeff. It hit him and resulted in Jeff suffering a torn biceps tendon.

The injured worker sued to recover compensation for the harm he suffered in the accident. His case asserted that he was entitled to compensation because the defendants violated Section 240(1) of the Labor Law. That statute, sometimes known as the “Scaffold Law,” aims to protect construction workers from harm resulting from elevation-related risks of harm.

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