Construction Accidents In New York
Scaling scaffolding, climbing ladders and surrounded by heavy machinery, construction workers are threatened by their own job sites every day. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more than 20% of all workers fatally-injured in 2013 were employed in the construction industry.
Personal injury, which can be particularly severe on construction sites, is far more common. OSHA reports that approximately 197,800 American construction workers were hurt on the job in 2013, a number topped only by the manufacturing industry.
To learn which common injuries may be grounds for legal action, click here.
Is Workers Compensation Enough?
If you’ve been seriously injured on the job, you’re probably facing a long recovery, with all the medical expenses and time off work that entails.
The good news is that as an employee in New York State, you’re guaranteed compensation. Regardless of your company’s size, your employer is required to participate in a Workers Compensation program.
It sounds easy: report your accident, make a claim, and start receiving benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages.
But here’s the bad news: almost half of all workers compensation claims are denied. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs surveyed 105,006 unique workers comp claims, and reported that 48,303 injured workers were simply turned away at the door. New York’s Workers Compensation Board is even tougher. Almost 54% of all individual claims are denied.
What Will Workers Comp Cover?
Even if you’re claim is approved, the benefits are often insufficient. Workers comp in New York will cover your:
- Medical expenses – emergency care, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions and rehab specialists
- Permanent disability – if your injury leaves you permanently unable to work, New York is prepared to support you – for a time. Even workers who are totally disabled can only receive benefits for a maximum of ten years.
- Lost wages, usually two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
But you can only receive lost wage benefits if you’re unable to work for longer than seven days. And the amount to which you are entitled can be lowered, based on the severity of your injury. If an insurance company’s doctor considers you “only” 50% disabled, then your lost wages will be cut in half.
Beyond that, workers comp offers injured employees nothing to cover the hardship of pain and psychological distress. As we all know, these effects can be just as debilitating as any physical injury.
The message is clear: New York State workers comp won’t let you recover on your own terms. Instead, you’ll be at the mercy of private insurance companies and your own employer. With their focus solely on the bottom line, they’ll scour every claim you file to find reasons to deny you benefits.
You can find more information on Workers Comp insurance here.
Do I Have Other Options?
Originally, workers comp was a bargain. In exchange for guaranteed coverage (coverage that an insurance carrier can suspend or modify at a moment’s notice), New York’s workers gave up the right to sue their employer’s for negligence.
This is still true: even if your own employer’s disregard for safety caused your injuries, State law makes it almost impossible for you to file a lawsuit against them.
But our lawmakers aren’t completely ignorant of the dangers present in the construction industry. In fact, New York’s labor laws may be the most progressive in the country.
Can I Sue Under New York’s “Scaffold Law”?
One of them, Labor Law Section 240(1), makes employers strictly liable for injuries that result from “elevation-related accidents”: falls from scaffolding and ladders. In short, your employer is legally responsible for your safety at heights.
If you fell from an elevated structure, and your employer failed to provide you with the correct safety equipment, you may be able to hold them accountable in a court of law.
Find more information on types of accidents here.
Third Party Worksite Negligence
While falls account for almost 40% of all fatal construction accidents, worksites can be home to numerous other dangers. And your own employer is only one part of the vast machinery that keeps a construction site running.
Architects, engineers, contractors, independent contractors, and equipment manufacturers; each plays its own part on the job site.
Regardless of their position or duties, everyone involved in construction has a responsibility to keep others as safe as possible. In legal terms, this is known as a “duty of care,” and it binds everyone’s actions to a reasonable standard. When others overstep this boundary, and workers are hurt, they can be held legally accountable.
Workers comp may prevent you from suing your own employer, but it doesn’t restrict your rights in relation to these “third parties.” Under the legal theory known as “negligence,” you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. But even in this instance, pursuing justice is difficult.
In some cases, construction industry negligence is in plain sight, and it’s easy to find the cause of your injuries. But more often than not, the parties legally liable for an accident can only be discovered after thorough investigation.
Good thing you don’t have to go it alone.
Can I File A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If someone else on your jobsite acted without regard for your health and safety, the personal injury lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. can help.
You’ll need an aggressive representative, one whose only aim is to see you thrive. With over 80 years of combined trial experience, our construction accident attorneys have developed the thorough, working knowledge of New York’s labor laws that your case deserves.
In that time, we’ve built a proven track record, securing over $500 million for our clients.
With the guidance of our experienced construction accident attorneys, you can secure the maximum compensation that New York State law allows.
Contact Our New York City Construction Accident Lawyers
All too often, we’ve seen New York’s Workers Compensation system treat injured workers as numbers.
The personal injury lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. understand that you’re not just another statistic: you’re a hard-working American, with a family that counts on you, and responsibilities that a workplace injury can make it all but impossible to fulfill.
We want to see you recover fully, on your own terms. That’s why our attorneys always work on a contingency-fee basis: you owe us nothing until we win your case.
Contact our experienced construction accident team for a free consultation. There’s no obligation, and no fee: just trusted legal guidance from New York’s leading team of personal injury attorneys. Call 212-285-3300 or fill out our contact form to speak with a lawyer immediately.