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NY Labor Laws That Impact Construction Accidents
New York has special labor laws that allow construction workers to file a lawsuit if they suffer an injury on the job. These laws allow workers to seek compensation for lost wages and benefits, medical bills and expenses and compensation for pain and suffering. In particular, the three code sections of the New York labor law that pertain most to construction include:
- Labor Law Section 200, which addresses employers’ general duty to protect the safety and health of their employees. Section 200 holds that construction sites must provide reasonable and adequate protections to construction workers from work site hazards. This law allows workers to hold contractors and work site owners liable, if their injury was caused an unsafe condition and the employer knew or should have known about the condition before the injury.
- Labor Law Section 240, also called the “Scaffold Law”, which includes regulations for scaffolding and other devices employees must use on the job and imposes strict liability upon contractors and job site owners to protect construction workers from falls from heights, falling objects and any other “gravity-related” injuries.
- Labor Law Section 241(6), which pertains to construction, demolition, and excavation work. Section 241(6) of New York Labor Law allows workers to sue contractors for violations of certain parts of New York Industrial Code, specifically Rule 23.
While these and other laws are in place to protect workers in the construction industry, they include broad and expansive rules and must be applied and interpreted correctly. It is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney if you were hurt in a construction accident.
Who is protected by New York Labor Laws?
Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places. For this reason, the law protects both workers who traverse and work on construction sites, as well as firefighters and police officers who are there for a job. The property owner and contractors working on a site have a responsibility to maintain the site in a safe condition — including both the work areas and the passageways. Thus, if a firefighter or police officer responds to a job at a construction site and is injured, he or she may be entitled to compensation if the owner and contractors violate their duty.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
There are several types of compensation available to those injured in construction accidents. Employees will have the opportunity to file a workers’ compensation claim if their injuries occur within the scope of their job duties, but other individuals, such as pedestrians and passersby near construction sites, could suffer injuries as well. In any event, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit for a construction accident can secure several types of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses. When a negligent party causes illness or injury to another party, the at-fault party has a legal obligation to make the injured party “whole” again, and this typically requires paying for the injured party’s hospital bills and other treatment costs resulting from negligence.
- Property damage. If a defendant’s negligence damaged or destroyed the plaintiff’s personal property, the plaintiff can claim these losses as damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
- Lost income. A construction injury may force a plaintiff to miss work or prevent the victim from working in the future. Plaintiffs can secure compensation for lost past and future wages resulting from negligence.
- Pain and suffering. The jury reviewing a construction accident lawsuit will consider expert witness testimony and the facts of the case to determine a fair amount of compensation for a plaintiff’s physical pain and emotional suffering.
- Punitive damages. In the event a defendant’s behavior was grossly negligent, an intentional tort, or otherwise fell outside the scope of “typical” negligence, the court may award punitive damages to the plaintiff to further punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Workers’ compensation may provide some relief from the economic impact of a construction accident, but injured workers need to know when they have options for additional legal action. The right New York construction accident attorney can help an injured construction worker or other plaintiff in a construction accident case maximize his or her compensation.
Determining Liability in a New York Construction Accident Case
The first step in recovering compensation after a New York construction accident is determining who is liable for the damages. In some cases, the liable party is another employee, a supervisor, or an employer. For example, an employee notifies his supervisor of a damaged electrical wire that could cause an injury. The supervisor neglects to address this issue and a few days later another worker suffers an electrocution injury. In this situation the supervisor was negligent for failing to address a known safety issue in a timely manner.
Not all construction injuries allow workers to hold employer’s liable. Section 200 only allows injured workers in specific circumstances as outlined above. Outside of those circumstances, construction workers can recover compensation through the workers’ compensation system. The workers’ compensation benefits system exists to help injured workers recover after on-the-job injuries. The goal of workers’ compensation is to help an injured employee return to work after recovery and minimize the economic impact of missing time from work after an injury. Workers’ compensation can provide weekly benefits that amount to a portion of the injured employee’s average weekly wage as well as long-term benefits if he or she requires extensive recovery time or cannot return to the same position after recovery.
While workers’ compensation may also cover some of an injured employee’s immediate medical expenses, these benefits may not fully compensate an injured construction worker after a severe injury. In some cases, an injured employee may have the option of filing a lawsuit against an at-fault party that caused his or her injury.
If a worker’s injury are caused by a defective piece of equipment or tool, he or she may have the option of filing a product liability claim. Typically claimants must show that the tool or equipment was unreasonably dangerous (whether by faulty design or poor manufacturing), they were using said tool or equipment in the manner it was intended and that the dangerous defect caused the injury. If these conditions were present, the injured worker may have a claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the equipment.
Fall From Truck – $4 Million Recovered – A 26 year old truck driver sustained numerous fractures when he fell from his truck because construction site personnel negligently misdirected him.
Demolition Accident – $4 Million Recovered – 57 year-old was injured during demolition work when a beam fell on both his legs resulting in an above-the-knee amputation of the right leg and a below-the-knee amputation of the left leg.
Construction Accident – Roof Collapse Man Lift Tips Over $3.75 Million Recovered – 38 year-old bridge painter fell 25 feet from a man-lift when it rolled into an unguarded trench causing it to tip over, resulting in permanently disabling bilateral leg fractures, wrist fracture and herniated lumbar disc, requiring multiple surgeries.
Laborer Fell Through Hole – $3.6 Million Settlement – Reached during trial for our client, a steamfitter who was rendered a paraplegic when he fell through a hole at a construction site which, we contended, was neither properly covered nor barricaded.
Worker Falls from Roof – $3.5 Million Verdict – A maintenance worker, who suffered brain damage and a badly fractured elbow when he fell some 20 feet off the roof of a supermarket. At the time, he was trying to replace a large piece of roofing that had been blown off by the wind when he himself was blown off the roof by a gust of wind. We proved that the building owner’s failure to furnish a safety harness to our client and was in violation of New York’s Labor Law.
Shoulder and Brain Injuries – $3 Million Recovered – Worker injured by an industrial roll of cable, sustaining shoulder and brain injuries.
Man Struck by Construction Vehicle – Death $3 Million Recovered – 37 year-old landscaper, husband and father of a 6-year-old, was at landfill construction site when he was struck by a payloader that backed up into him crushing him in between two trucks, causing his death.
Contact our Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one were injured on a construction site, Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannoav, P.C. are here to help. You can call our office at (212) 732-9000 or, you can contact one of our Construction Accident Attorneys by filling this form. If you are in the hospital or immobile in your home, our firm will also make arrangements to come visit you and talk about your case, at no charge to you. When handling legal matters, time is of the essence and the earlier you contact us the better we can assist you with your construction accident and ensure your rights are protected.