In 2008, construction workers made up only 8% of America’s workforce. Development was hit particularly hard by the Recession, and many projects dried up from a lack of funding.
But even with a vastly reduced workforce, 20% of the nation’s workplace injuries were suffered by employees in the construction industry that year.
With work returning throughout New York State, the rate of serious personal injury among construction workers is again on the rise.
Construction Site Injuries
Without proper accident prevention measures, construction can be one of the most dangerous occupations. If you’ve been seriously injured in a worksite accident, it’s very likely that you’ll face considerable medical expenses and a lengthy time away from work.
In over 80 years of combined experience, the construction accident attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. have fought aggressively to see our working clients fairly compensated. We’ve collected hundreds of millions for New York workers, and now we’re willing to fight for you.
Without a full review of your medical reports and the facts of your case, we can’t value your injuries right away. But our considerable trial experience has given us a particular insight on the most common construction accident injuries, and which ones generally figure in successful lawsuits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) accounted for one out of every three occupational injuries in 2013.
This wide category of diseases and traumatic injuries includes broken bones, along with soft-tissue injuries. The “soft tissues,” like tendons and ligaments, are bodily structures that support your skeleton, hold it in place and allow for movement.
MSD usually result in severe pain. But because of the crucial importance that soft tissues play in facilitating motion, more serious musculoskeletal injuries often lead to physical impairment.
Every year between 1992 and 2008, American construction workers were twice as likely to get hurt in falls from height than in any other type of accident. Thankfully, New York State has special legal protections for workers injured in falls. To find out if your accident is covered by New York’s “Scaffold Law,” click here.
Broken, or “fractured” tibiae, femura, ankles, knees and feet are extremely common results of elevation-related accidents, as workers fall through the air and land heavily on their legs.
While most of us associate broken bones with childhood and quick recoveries, a serious fracture can lead to extensive damage in the adult body. Compound (or “open”) fractures, in which a shard of broken bone punctures the skin, always require surgical intervention, as do many “closed” fractures.
With fragments of splintered bone trapped within a limb, severe neurological damage is a frequent result. Without immediate treatment, damage affecting the body’s neurons, which process sensations like pain and pressure, can result in permanent paralysis and the total loss of a limb’s use.
According to BioMedCentral, the median cost of a non-union tibia fracture (a broken shin bone that takes longer than usual to heal) is almost $26,000. A union fracture, one that heals correctly from the start, costs around $12,000.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Demanding physical labor can put a lot of undue stress on the body. Construction workers are often required to assume unnatural postures, work for long periods without rest and repeat the same motions over and over.
All of which can increase the risk of injuring muscles, ligaments and tendons. Soft tissue injuries can also be sustained in traumatic accidents.
Strains & Sprains
Lifting heavy objects repeatedly is a common cause of sprains, in which ligaments are torn, and strains, in which muscles and tendons are pulled beyond their normal range and damaged.
While commonly considered “minor” injuries, both strains and sprains can take months to heal. If treatment isn’t immediate, they may develop into chronic sources of pain and disability.
Inflammation is the body’s key response to injury. Swelling protects a wounded area and reduces the risk of infection. But inflamed tissues can often lead to serious pain, and extremely aggressive responses to trauma, like systemic inflammation, can actually result in organ failure.
Tendonitis occurs when the thick cords of tendon that connect your bones to muscle become intensely inflamed, causing widespread pain and loss of motion.
Repetitive Strain Injury
Almost every task on the worksite can lead to repetitive strain, or stress, injuries (RSI). Over long periods of time, repeated motions can injure a body part’s soft tissues, pinch nerves and cause numbness, pain and discomfort that radiate far from the injured area.
RSI is extremely common in the construction industry, and can be caused by:
- Using tools with triggers, like drills and nail guns
- Using tools that vibrate
- Lifting heavy objects
- Holding tools with hard handles that press into the palm
Unfortunately, workers comp insurance companies routinely deny laborers with repetitive strain injuries the benefits to which they are entitled. For one, it’s extremely difficult to prove that an RSI was inflicted primarily by your work routine, and not things you do off the job.
Traumatic Brain Injury
In 2013, an estimated 245 workers died after being struck by falling objects. In the majority of these accidents, workers on the ground suffered severe trauma to their heads.
Any forceful blow to the head can result in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a debilitating condition caused by swelling and neurological damage to the brain. After trauma, inflammation of the brain’s protective membrane can cut off supplies of necessary oxygen and nutrients, destroying brain cells and resulting in permanent losses of cognitive and sensory abilities.
Beside falling object accidents, TBI is common after:
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Falls from scaffolding or ladders
- Building collapses
- Slip, trip and falls
As we’ve mentioned, New York State law considers certain types of accident exceptional, affording workers additional legal protections. To learn more, click here.
Every year, 1.7 million Americans sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury. Approximately 52,000 die from their injuries within the first year. Those who survive face severe disabilities, most of a psychological nature.
After extensive brain damage, individuals often lose the ability to process information, respond in an emotionally appropriate manner and interact with others. Depression and anxiety disorders are a common result.
After the brain, the spine is quite possibly the most delicate structure in the human body.
A long row of bones, or “vertebrae,” that run from the base of your skull to your tailbone, the spinal column protects a thick bundle of nervous tissue: the spinal cord. This cord carries impulses from your brain to every other part of your body, making movement, sensation and reflexes possible.
Injuries to the spine are always extremely serious, and come in two major types: damage that affects the vertebrae, but leaves the spinal cord intact, and trauma that damages the spinal cord.
Spinal Column Injuries
Under crushing weight, the vertebrae that make up your spine can break, sending shards of bone into surrounding tissue and causing nerve damage.
Herniated Or Slipped Discs
But more often than not, workplace injuries affecting the spine come in the form of a “herniated” disc.
Each of your vertebrae are separated by a soft, gel-like cushion. Filled with fluid, these “discs” prevent the bones of your spine from rubbing together. With trauma, the discs can break and leak their contents, placing considerable pressure on the nerves that surround them, causing severe, long-lasting back and neck pain.
Spinal pain is the cause of at least 40% of all missed days of work in America.
Spinal Cord Injury
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), workplace accidents are a leading cause of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), and the condition is particularly prevalent within the construction industry.
The two most common occupational causes of SCI are:
- Falls from height
- Struck or crushed by falling objects
In all but the rarest cases, damage to the spinal cord results in at least some level of disability. Depending on how low on the spine an injury takes place, victims of a construction accident may experience:
- Quadriplegia (or “tetraplegia”) – a paralysis that affects both arms and legs. Extensive neurological damage can also inhibit the torso’s normal functions, including digestion and bladder control.
- Paraplegia – a paralysis that impairs the legs, but can leave the arms unharmed. Movement and sensation below the waist are severely disabled.
- Hemiplegia (or “Brown-Séquard Syndrome”) – a paralysis that only affects one side of the body.
The vast majority of people living with SCI cannot be “cured.” Instead, treatment is focused on rehabilitation. With extensive care, sufferers may be able to decrease their level of disability, but most will need medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
On every construction site across New York State, electricity powers the efforts of workers, running tools and illuminating spaces. For many tasks, hazardous chemicals are a must. And welding, one of construction’s most dangerous occupations, is essential to the joining of materials.
But each of these common practices presents workers with the risk of sustaining severe burns. Beyond sheer pain, which can be crippling after a third-degree burn, fires, explosions and chemicals can result in substantial scarring.
In a personal injury lawsuit, accident victims can pursue compensation not only for medical expenses and lost wages, but also “pain and suffering,” a category that often includes physical disfigurement.
Over time, exposure to hazardous conditions can lead to debilitating illnesses, many of which result in chronic effects and leave workers disabled for life.
- Inhaling dust and other particles in the air can cause respiratory conditions like asthma.
- Surrounded by loud machines for prolonged periods, many construction workers suffer from hearing loss.
Note that New York’s Workers Compensation Law proscribes separate time periods for claims that involve hearing loss. You must wait three months after you were exposed to damaging noise, or three months after you were removed from the noise (“removal” here includes receiving the proper Personal Protective Equipment), to file a claim.
- Numerous chemicals, when spilled on the skin, can result in virulent rashes and even permanent nerve damage.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 5,200 American construction workers contracted occupational illnesses in 2013.
Mesothelioma & Asbestos
Mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer, is probably the most widely-known occupational illness. Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, used for decades to insulate residential and commercial properties, mesothelioma results in death after only three years in 92% of cases.
Upwards of 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. The National Institutes of Health estimates that around 11 million Americans were exposed to asbestos from 1940 to 1978, the year in which most of asbestos’ uses were discontinued. Tragically, the disease can take as long as 50 years to present any outward symptoms.
Experienced personal injury lawyers continue to fight for the rights of workers diagnosed with mesothelioma after asbestos exposure. Victims of this horrible disease, or their survivors, may be entitled to substantial compensation.
Are My Injuries Serious Enough For A Lawsuit?
While few are willing to admit it, New York State’s Workers Compensation system routinely fails the injured men and women it was designed to protect. But there is a solution, one that could compensate you fairly and adequately, laying a firm foundation for your recovery.
If another person’s negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit, demanding accountability before a court of law and significant financial compensation.
Most minor injuries are insufficient grounds for a lawsuit, and you’ll likely have to rely on an insurance company’s benefits for short recovery times. But more severe injuries demand legal action, at least if you want to recover on your own terms.
Unfortunately, no attorney can tell you how much your injury claim is worth until after a thorough investigation. Every case depends on a wide range of factors specific to each accident.
Contact New York’s Construction Accident Lawyers
Were you seriously injured in a construction accident?
With decades of trial experience, and an unmatched understanding of New York State’s unique labor laws, the personal injury lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. can help.
Our aggressive attorneys have only one mission: to secure the maximum compensation that New York’s laws will allow. Without experienced representation, you risk being taken advantage of by an insurance company. But you don’t need to take that risk.
Contact our construction accident team for a free consultation today. Call 212-285-3300 or fill out our contact form to speak with a lawyer today. We’ll review your case right away, and outline the best course of action for you and your future.