Most injured workers readily accept workers comp. But it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks of insurance first. Most crucial? When you accept workers’ compensation, you simultaneously give up all your rights to pursue legal action against your employer. In this way, workers’ compensation protects employers as well, from being held liable for the injuries that their employees sustain. An employee who has accepted workers’ compensation still has the ability to file a 3rd party lawsuit.
In the Bronx, Manhattan, and New York’s surrounding urban areas, there is an especially significant reason to stop and evaluate before accepting workers’ compensation, and that is the scaffolding law. New York’s Scaffolding Law offers the opportunity for more complete support in the aftermath of a construction injury, by enabling the victim to sue the property owner or general contractor under certain circumstances.
Downsides Of Construction Accident Workers’ Comp
If a lawsuit is possible, it can often provide the victim with significantly more support than workers’ compensation is able to, because of a few factors.
- Workers’ compensation offers limited benefits for the individual. The wage-loss benefits that it provides typically cover only about 1/2 to 2/3 of the average weekly wage earned by the employee, and independent contractors are generally not defined as “employees”.
- Workers’ compensation benefits are provided only when the victim has suffered a “personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment.”
- Workers’ compensation can require approval of each medical procedure and physician visit before they are compensated, which can be time-consuming and stressful. The system is administered by a governmental state agency, which can also mean a lengthy wait time for responses and significant paperwork requirements.
- Workers’ compensation does not take into consideration coverage often necessary for pain and suffering or emotional/psychological damage after a personal injury.
Unfortunately, because workers’ compensation is available from an employer, this can sometimes cancel out a construction worker’s right to litigation. In the case of all construction-related injuries, it is of critical importance to look into New York’s Scaffolding Law.
How Can New York’s Scaffolding Law Help Me?
This statue is the biggest source of litigation for anyone injured while working a construction job. It provides significant protection to all construction site workers who are exposed to risks because of working at elevated heights.
Through imposing strict, unwavering liability on company owners and contractors, the law also provides more safety. If owners shoulder all liability for their workers, for example, they tend to do a more thorough job of providing and ensuring a consistently safe work site.
As soon as a violation under this law is able to be established, liability of the property owner and / or general contractor is also established. For construction workers in New York’s metropolitan area, including the Bronx, this law provides incredible protection. Even if a worker is performing their work away from the building or structure when injured, but doing work for their company, they can be protected.
The key element to coverage from the scaffolding law is that the victim is working in conditions where there are risks because of elevation differentials. This means that, even if the victim is not working up high, but their injuries were sustained because of differences in elevation of their environment (such as falling debris), they can still qualify for protection.
As you can imagine, this law has fallen under heavy debate and much scrutiny. It has caused problems for many property owners and contractors. However, recent attempts to make changes to the law have only spurred court decisions which strengthen it.
After suffering from a construction accident injury, it is important to evaluate your personal circumstances to determine if you can get protection from this significant statute. If your case does not apply, do not be discouraged. There are other exceptions to the rule that help provide you with further rights to legal action.
Other Exceptions May Entitle You To File A Lawsuit
You may have the right to take legal action if you feel that either of the following circumstances are true concerning your construction accident:
- your accident may have been intentionally caused by your employer
- your accident may have been caused by a negligent third party, a defective product or safety equipment, or a mistake from anyone other than your employer
Common Construction Accidents
- Slips and falls, falls off of ladders – falls make up about 15% of all work-related injuries across the United States.
- Scaffolding injuries and falls – scaffolding is a temporary structure consisting of platforms, posts, poles, and frames used to scale buildings and complete work at various heights. It is considered highly dangerous and accounts for many work injuries annually.
- Debris Injuries – according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, even pedestrians passing by construction zones are injured by debris or falling objects about once a month.
- Injuries from product malfunctions – An estimated 34 million people are killed or injured due to product-related accidents annually. Treatment to repair these injuries has a yearly estimated cost of $12 billion.
Getting The Right Legal Support After My Construction Accident
Lipsig Law Firm offers dedicated attorneys who understand the Bronx business world and know construction accidents can cause much more than purely physical injuries. We know that becoming injured from a construction accident can mean job/wage loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, difficult pain and suffering, deformities/scarring, depression, and so much more.
The Lipsig Law Firm attorneys diligently work to evaluate the details of your case, and your rights to take civil action. We help you attain what you truly deserve and want to see you recover fully on your own terms and in your own time. We offer dedicated services on a contingency-fee basis. This means that you owe nothing until we win your case. Even your consultation is completely free.
Latest Construction Updates
By Tom Moverman
May 24, 2018 – New Jersey Contractor Fined For Asbestos and Fall Violations
A roofing contractor in West Milford, NJ has been fined over $221,000 for alleged worksite violations that may have left employees vulnerable to falls and asbestos-related illnesses during residential demolition projects.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued several violations after an October 2017 inspection, including:
- Exposing workers to falls from unsafe ladders;
- Failure to provide required fall protection;
- Exposing employees to asbestos; and
- Failing to provide asbestos safety training.
April 19, 2018 – 1 Construction Worker, 2 Pedestrians Injured In Brooklyn Scaffolding Collapse
A construction worker and two pedestrians were injured when a 20-foot section of scaffolding collapsed onto a Brooklyn sidewalk on Saturday, April 14. Construction crews were dismantling the scaffolding when the section fell onto Joralemon Street near Brooklyn Borough Hall, injuring one of the workers and two pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. The injured worker was a crew supervisor who suffered a serious arm injury.
The NYC Department of Buildings cited the company for failing to safeguard persons and property during a construction operation. This violation carries a $25,000 fine. The cause of the accident is currently under investigation.
March 27, 2018 – Nonprofit Demands Investigation Into Bronx Construction Worker’s Death
An immigrant rights group is asking for an investigation into the death of a construction worker from the Bronx at his worksite in Queens. 34-year-old Ecuadorian construction worker Edgar Pazmino was crushed by a forklift at the Jamaica site on March 13.
The group wants to know why Pazmino and other workers were permitted to work at the site, which was under a stop-work order due to several safety violations from the NYC Department of Buildings.
There have been almost 500 construction-related deaths in New York City over the past decade, which the group says shows that the city is not doing enough to keep construction workers safe.
February 15, 2018 – Partially Blinded Construction Worker Settles for $1.5 Million
A Staten Island construction worker who was partially blinded in one eye during a construction accident in Manhattan four years ago has reached a $1.5 million settlement. The 44-year-old man was working for Advanced Carpentry Construction at a job site at 321 West 35th Street on August 29, 2014, when the accident happened. He was checking jacks on the ground level, turned his head, and his right eye struck a clamp wedge spike which was part of the support jack.
According to the man’s attorney, that support jack should have had a hard plastic mushroom cap, which could have prevented the injuries. The man sued Landmark Realty LLC, Run 178 and Raber Enterprises LLC (the owners of the building), along with Flintlock Construction Services, the general contractor of the building. He claimed that these parties failed to keep his work environment safe and allowed a dangerous and defective condition to exist, which allegedly caused his injury.
January 8, 2018 – Construction Worker Injured In Fall At Jersey Heights Job Site
A construction worker who was working on a new home in Jersey City Heights was injured when he fell one floor on January 2nd. The subcontractor was attempting to install stairs when he fell from the third floor to the second floor. There was no fall prevention system in place, and materials fell onto the worker as he fell. The man was taking to RWJBarnabas Health’s Jersey City Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities shut down work at the building after discovering that there were no permits at the scene.
December 13, 2017 – Construction Workers & Driver Blame Each Other For Backhoe Accident
A construction crew and motorist are telling two different stories regarding a backhoe accident in Airmont. According to the driver of a box truck, he was traveling down Route 59 when a construction worker drove a backhoe into his vehicle. The backhoe ended up with a broken wheel, while the box truck was left with a large hole in the side of the vehicle.
Construction workers are disputing the driver’s account, claiming that he was driving erratically through construction cones before driving into the backhoe.
No one was injured in the accident and no charges have been filed.
November 29, 2017 – Bronx District Attorney Investigating Building For Faulty Construction
The Bronx district attorney is conducting a criminal investigation into ongoing problems involving a dangerously constructed condo facility in the borough. The investigation began after a news report aired, which claimed that the condo building was built on a foundation of clay instead of bedrock. The city ordered the building’s owner to fix this issue.
However, the foundation still remains unsafe. The owner of a neighboring apartment building believes the foundation is still a major risk and fears that the building could collapse, similar to the accident that injured several construction workers in Queens earlier this year.
October 26, 2017 – Two Construction Workers Injured In Bronx Scaffolding Fall
Two construction workers were seriously injured after they fell through an opening on a piece of scaffolding at a Bronx construction site on Tuesday, October 3rd. They were working on a 12-story apartment building on Third Ave when they fell about 20 feet through the defective scaffolding.
The men both suffered head and neck injuries in the accident, and one was classified as in critical condition. Three wooden planks were missing from the scaffolding, which created a gap that the workers fell through.
The Buildings Department issued a partial stop work order after inspecting the building and discovering missing end railings, planking issues, and workers who could not produce their scaffolding safety training cards.
September 14, 2017- Three Workers Injured From Fall On A Construction Site
In Elkton, three construction workers were injured after they fell a dozen feet in a construction accident. According to the assistant sheriff, the three workers fell off a scaffolding that broke. The scaffolding was attached to a skid steer. The injured workers are 53, 51 and 22-years-old and they fell nearly 12 feet onto the concrete floor. One worker was transported to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls for treatment for unknown injuries. The other two workers were treated and released fairly quickly. It was not immediately known what led to the scaffolding fall.
August 24, 2017- Construction Worker Falls Down Elevator Shaft And Dies
A 22-year-old construction worker died recently after he fell down an elevator shaft on a condo project that was under construction. Fire officials responded to the call at a 52-story tower under construction at 281 Fifth Avenue close to 30th Street in Manhattan. Unfortunately, the young worker was pronounced dead at a hospital he was transported to. It was not immediately clear what led to the accident as well as when investigations would be underway.
July 17, 2017- Trench Collapse Leaves Worker Dead
A construction worker died after a trench collapsed at a Prince George County work site. According to officials, the man was killed while performing utility work on a roadway. Rescue teams tried to free the man after he got trapped up to his chest in the trench. He was pronounced dead on the scene of the accident. It is unclear what caused the trench to collapse.
June 20, 2017- Electrocution Death Leads To Construction Company Being Cited
Following a construction accident that happened on June 9, 2016, a construction company is facing penalties for it. A 44-year-old man was electrocuted while he was preparing a worksite on Rivergate Drive in order to install a new pole when the equipment he was working with came into contact with a high-voltage transmission line. The electric shock he got from this voltage went through his right arm and into his chest and he later died from this shock. OSHA conducted an investigation into this accident and found the construction company the man worked for, did not ensure that the derrick boom truck he was working on operated safely in order to have the minimum approach distance between the boom. In addition, the exposed energized overhead power transmission was maintained at all times. Read more about OSHA’s findings here.
May 18, 2017- Worker Burned By A Load Of Asphalt
A highway worker was burned in Warren County after a load of hot asphalt was accidentally piled on the cab of the dump truck she was driving. According to officials, the woman was pulling under a hopper to have asphalt put in the truck but the load was piled on the cab and not on the truck’s bed. The extent of her injuries was unknown but they were not considered life threatening.
April 24, 2017- City Hardhat Dies In A Preventable Accident
A city hardhat plummeted 18 feet to his death in what a Buildings Commissioner is calling a “completely preventable” accident. The construction accident took place in Times Square. The 59-year-old was helping to remove part of a steel deck from a slab when he fell from an I-beam closer to the second floor. He later died at Mount Sinai West. Following this accident, the Buildings Department will be increasing their safety inspections around the city. An investigation is also underway to establish whether or not this site had a construction superintendent.
March 29, 2017- State Police Detectives Investigating An Excavator Accident
In East Hartford, CT, state police detectives from the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit (FEIU) are investigating a serious excavator accident. Troopers responded to a reported industrial accident involving an excavator at a construction site. When the troopers arrived they found the John Deere excavator on its side with the boom looming overpass. The excavator operator was pushed from the cab of the excavator. He was transported to Hartford Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The accident is under investigation by the state police detectives from the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit as part of their responsibilities for construction and worksite equipment.
February 17, 2017- Head Trauma Accident Kills Construction Worker
A Greensville construction worker died on Valentine’s Day after a pulley came loose and dropped on his head. It was reported that several construction workers were using a pulley system to raise and lower pallets of bricks to different scaffolding levels. The 64-year-old construction worker ended up being struck on the head when he pulled on the rope to raise another pallet to a fellow worker which led to the pulley coming loose and dropping on his head. The worker was pronounced dead after he spent over a week at the Greenville Memorial Hospital.
January 13, 2017- Bobcat Construction Accident Leaves 5 Injured
Five people were injured in a construction accident after a Bobcat machine fell through the roof of the National Wholesale Liquidators store in Yonkers. The construction crew was repairing a parking lot above the store when the concrete below unexpectedly gave way. The collapse caused the Bobcat machine to drop including its operator and a passenger. The drop was nearly 30 feet into the store below and also took a big chunk of the roof along with it. The fire department is calling the accident a “major roof collapse”.
December 21, 2016- 30-Year-Old Man Crushed By Asphalt Roller
A 30-year-old man was killed in a construction accident in Colleyville. Reports stated that the accident happened in the morning after an asphalt roller crushed him. He died the same day that evening with reports stating that he succumbed to the injuries he sustained from the crush. The incident is under investigation.
November 2, 2016- Bronx Man Dies On Brooklyn Construction Site
A 43-year-old man Bronx man died while working on a construction site in Brooklyn. Police responded to a 911 call to 61 Bond Street between State and Schermerhorn Streets where they found the Bronx man “unconscious and unresponsive with severe trauma to the head and body” according to the NYPD. The security guard on site believes that something must have detached and struck the man in the head. Emergency responders pronounced the Bronx man dead at the scene.
October 1, 2016- Man Fatally Struck And Killed By Excavator
One man has been confirmed dead in a workplace accident in Georgetown. Firefighters and police are said to have responded to Mirra Company, which is a utility construction company, in the afternoon. According to State police, a male employee was killed while he was backing a large excavator out of a garage. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. This incident is being investigated and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was made aware of this incident.
September 1, 2016- Construction Company Facing Serious Violations Has Another Accident
Construction company Perofrmance Builders, Inc. has been well known as being “shady”. Last month a worker employed by the company died from a scaffold collapse that is being investigated by OSHA. The construction worker died in Summerlin, Las Vegas on a construction site. Performance Builders, Inc. is already being investigated for serious violations in the past. A serious violation is when an employer is aware of a situation that will surely cause injury or death but does not remedy it.
August 23, 2016- Watertown Company Fined By OSHA For Construction Accident
A construction company in Watertown is faced with fines following a federal investigation into a worker’s death. Federal investigators have determined that the company failed to correctly train the worker who died at a construction site. The worker died in April after he fell more than 33 feet to his death while working on the roof of the Watertown Community Center. OSHA fined the roofing company the man worked for $77,000 in penalties.
June 28, 2016- Welder Struck By Beam At Whitemarsh Construction Site
A welder recently died after he was struck by a metal beam at White Marsh construction site. The incident was investigated by county police and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health officials, no foul play was suspected. The metal piece that struck the welder is described as an I-beam.
May 10, 2016- Contractor Fined For Exposing Workers To Dangerous Falls Risk
OSHA has fined an Elizabeth, New Jersey contractor, Cajamarca Construction Corp., for exposing construction workers to dangerous risk of falls. An OSHA compliance officer drove by the site and found workers exposed to 28-foot falls with no fall protection on hand as they undertook roof work. The employer was cited for willful violation because they failed to use to fall protection equipment that was already available for use on the site.
April 27, 2016- Worker Killed By Falling Plank Of Scaffolding On Construction Site
In New York, a construction worker was recently killed by a falling plank of scaffolding at a construction site. Upon investigation of the site, several safety violations were found which has led friends and family of the worker to call for more action for the safety of non-union employees. The deceased man’s family believes that companies employing non-union workers are not considering safety and are more focused on profits. The Department of Buildings issued a stop work order after the man died.
March 4, 2016- Crane Operator Killed In Pope County
A crane operator was killed in Arkansas, Pope County, on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. The crane operator was killed while working on a construction site on Highway 7. The operator was pronounced dead at the scene and the incident is under investigation.
February 18, 2016- Morris County Contractor Placed Workers In Danger Of Possible Trench Cave-In
Yannuizzi Group Inc., in New Jersey was cited for one willful and one serious violation after OSHA inspectors proved the company failed to make use of a sufficient protective system. The protective system would prevent its workers from injuries in the event that the trench caved-in. This was noted as a willful citation. The proposed penalty for the violations is $58,800.
January 24, 2016- Chicago Ford Plant Accident Leaves 1 Injured & 1 Dead
In Chicago, one construction worker was killed and another was seriously injured when they were working in a Ford Assembly Plant. The accident took place when an eight-by-eight wall collapsed. The area where the wall fell was under construction.
Ford officials released a statement stating that a man had been killed and another seriously injured while trying to help. The incident is under investigation.
December 30, 2015- Hendricks County Man Killed On Construction Site
In Fort Wayne, Indiana a coroner said a Hendricks County man passed away due to head injuries after a compressed gas line he was working on hit him at a construction site near Fort Wayne. The death of the man has been ruled as accidental. The man was working on a compressed gas line that came loose from its fitting.
December 23, 2015- Port Angeles Construction Worker Wins Lawsuit
A Port Angeles carpenter was awarded $1.5 million in a malpractice verdict against Harboview Medical Center. The carpenter lost the use of one of his hands in a 2011 work related incident. The man suffered an injury when he fell sixteen feet from a scaffold in 2011. He had fractures to his feet, leg, and left elbow and had to be airlifted from Port Angeles to Harboview Medical Center. The man later developed what was diagnosed as compartment syndrome, which was not correctly addressed leading him to file a malpractice lawsuit.