According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls are the leading cause of death among contractors, and one of the leading causes for the construction industry at-large.
Every year, an average of 360 construction workers die due to fall-related injuries. But many, many more are injured, and the prospects of a full recovery can seem slim at first.
Scaffold & Ladder Accidents In New York
In 2010, falls led to 18,130 severe injuries that resulted in lost days of work.
This statistics reveals an unsettling truth. The problem is not simply that too many workers are being injured in falls, or that these accidents result in debilitating physical pain and psychological trauma. The problem is greater.
Temporarily or permanently disabled, unable to work, America’s injured construction laborers are faced by mounting medical costs and no income to cover those expenses.
Workers Compensation: Friend Or Foe?
Were you seriously injured in a construction accident?
Your first avenue for compensation is New York State’s Workers Compensation program, a grand bargain that provides guaranteed benefits in exchange for a workers’ right to sue a negligent employer.
But for many injured workers, this “promise” of compensation turns out to be less than guaranteed.
As of January, 2015, the Department of Labor reports that 53% of workers are denied compensation benefits out-right in New York. Of those who are approved, 53% of their individual claims will be denied. And crucially, workers comp only covers necessary medical expenses, and a fraction of your lost wages. To learn what workers comp benefits will, and will not, cover, click here.
More than half of all injured workers in New York, denied the very compensation to which they are entitled. Without the possibility of suing a negligent employer, how can any of these people hope to recover? How can you?
Can I File A Construction Accident Lawsuit?
Scaffolding and ladders, while essential to many tasks on the job-site, are recognized as “inherent hazards.”
Equipment that allows workers to reach heights is certainly necessary, but it can be dangerous in itself. In other words, no one needs to make a mistake for accidents to happen.
Protecting New York’s Workers With Strong Labor Laws
Almost 65% of American workers in construction use scaffolding on a regular basis. With more skyscrapers than any other city in the country, New York City may very well have a higher percentage.
Among America’s 50 states, New York is unique. Long ago, our lawmakers recognized the serious risks that working on ladders and scaffolding presents.
They recognized these risks, and took action, protecting your right to a safe workplace in State law.
Employer & Property Owner Responsibilities
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According to New York Labor Law 240, property owners and contractors are liable for the safety of any and all:
Anything that allows workers to reach heights above the ground or a floor: your employer must construct and maintain safe equipment, and is bound to this responsibility by law.
The logic of New York’s “Scaffold Law” is simple: ladders and scaffolding are dangerous; employers and property owners need to make them as safe as possible. If they don’t, they should be punished for threatening the lives of workers.
Scaffolding Safety Requirements
The law also provides guidance in specific situations.
Scaffolds and staging more than twenty feet from the ground must be outfitted with a safety rail. One out of every five fatal elevation-related accidents involve falls from over thirty feet. A higher proportion of workers die in falls from only ten feet or less.
Railings have to be secured properly, made from the right materials and rise to a minimum of 34 inches above the scaffold.
This rail must extend the entire length of the platform, and around both ends. Only openings absolutely necessary for the delivery of materials are allowed. It must be attached in such a way that prevents it from swaying.
Note that this requirement does not include scaffolding erected entirely inside a building, so long as the scaffold covers the entire floor of a room.
In addition, all scaffolding has to be made strong enough to carry four times the maximum weight that it will actually bear in use.
Do I Have A Case Under New York’s “Scaffold Law”?
Most of New York’s courts have interpreted the Scaffold Law to mean “strict” liability.
In short, it doesn’t matter whether or not your own employer was actively negligent. It doesn’t matter whether or not you were partially responsible for the accident. And it doesn’t matter how much control your employer actually had over the unsafe equipment.
If your employer failed to provide you with “proper protection” at heights, and you were injured, they can be held legally responsible in a civil lawsuit.
Why Pursue A Lawsuit?
While workers compensation severely limits the benefits to which you are entitled, a personal injury lawsuit can make you truly whole.
Beyond covering your medical expenses and all lost wages, you have the right to pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress and even the hardships your family has been forced to endure.
The vast majority of plaintiffs (injured parties) who win civil lawsuits are awarded damages for pain and suffering.
But New York’s Scaffold Law is highly contentious, and your employer will fight tooth-and-nail to avoid the consequences of their own carelessness.
Experience, Aggression, Results
The construction accident lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. have successfully represented New York’s injured workers for a combined 80 years.
With decades of trial experience, our attorneys consistently hold property owners and contractors accountable before the law.
Many of our cases involve the State’s Scaffold Law.
Construction Injury Results: Verdicts & Settlements
Our client, a 25-year-old worker, fell from defectively built scaffolding, suffering multiple fractured ribs and considerable trauma to his left knee. Treatment included several procedures, including spinal fusion surgery to repair his damaged lower back. Our construction accident team was able to secure $2.6 million in compensation for his injuries.
We recovered $1.75 million for a 53-year-old worker who fell from scaffolding. Our client was left with multiple pelvic fractures, broken fingers, chronic back pain and a debilitating Traumatic Brain Injury.
Our personal injury attorneys secured $1.6 million to support the recovery of a 50-year-old construction worker. After falling from a poorly-maintained scaffold, our client sustained back and ankle injuries that required surgery.
To find more case results, click here.
Contact New York’s Ladder & Scaffolding Accident Attorneys
Injured in an accident involving a ladder or scaffolding?
The construction accident team at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. can help. Our priority is your full recovery; our only goal to secure you fair and adequate compensation.
Contact our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. Call 212-285-3300 or complete our contact form to begin reviewing your legal options with an attorney.