Construction Accidents

Construction Accidents


CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT LAWYER NYC Construction workers in the NYC and State of New York face very real dangers on the job site.
Many people not involved in the construction trade do not understand the physical demands placed upon a construction worker, involving repetitive movements in awkward and uncomfortable positions hours on end day in and day out.
A physical injury or personal injury to a construction worker or tradesman can impose a devastating impact upon the injured worker and their family both physically and financially.
The New York State Labor Law provides extra protection to construction workers involved in work site related accidents.

In New York, pursuant to sections 200, 240 and 241(6) of the New York State Labor Law, a construction worker involved in a work related accident, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, may also have a third‑party law suit (a regular lawsuit) against the general contractor and/or owner of the construction site. A direct cause of action may also exist against another contractor to the extent that the other contractor was at fault for the happening of the accident.

Section 200 of the New York State Labor law essentially codifies a common law obligation of reasonable care in the maintenance of the work site.

Section 241(6) of the New York State Labor law imposes a non-delegable duty upon the general contractor and/or owner to comply with all provisions of the New York State Industrial Code with language that sets forth specific requirements.

Section 240(1) of the New York State Labor law provides under certain circumstances near strict liability as against the owner of a qualified property and the general contractor for a worker falling from a height (from a ladder, scaffold, unprotected opening, or off the side of a building a structure), or material that falls upon a worker that is either being hoisted or should be secured for the undertaking.

In New York a construction worker involved in a work related accident in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, may also have a third party lawsuit pursuant to common law principles of negligence against other contractors, product liability cases arising from defective products, or liability imposed upon the general contractor and/or the owner of the site (regardless of their active wrongdoing) imposed by the New York State Labor Law.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits:

When involved in a construction related accident in NYC and New York State, the worker always has a workers’ compensation claim against the employer and their workers’ compensation carrier. In New York, Section 11 of the Workers’ Compensation Law limits workers compensation benefits as a remedy with respect to a claim against the employer or co-worker.

Third Party Lawsuit:

However, aside from a workers’ compensation claim, the injured construction worker may have a third party lawsuit as against the owner and general contractor pursuant to certain statutory non-delegable obligations imposed upon the owner of the site and general contractor.  The injured worker may also have a claim against another contractor other than the employer based upon negligence. A third party action is in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, and for the most part is worth far more than the workers’ compensation claim due to the categories of damages recoverable in a regular lawsuit.

Labor Law Protections:

New York has some of the most protective laws on the books compared to other states with respect to the obligations of the owner and general contractor of a construction site.

The obligations as mentioned are non-delegable, which essentially means even if the obligations are delegated by contract or otherwise, the obligations imposed by law rest with the owner and general contractor.

240(1) Labor Law – Falling Worker or Material Falling from Height:

For example, Section 240(1) of the New York State Labor Law, imposes what can almost be described as strict liability upon the owner and general contractor for any type of fall from an elevated height from a ladder, scaffolding or other device meant to provide elevated protection with no specific height requirement.  Section 240(1) also provides for liability for material being hoisted or secured falling upon or causing injury a worker. In this category of case, it does not matter who’s equipment was in use, and it does not matter if the injured workers was at fault (unless the defendant can prove the injured worker was solely responsible and no statutory violation has occurred).  This category of case is largely won as a matter of law on a motion for Summary Judgment.

A Section 240 based case may allow the worker to obtain a finding of legal liability upon the owner and general contractor as a matter of law (before a case even goes to trial). In a Section 240 case there is no comparative fault upon the construction worker.  Even if the injured worker was negligent, unless the negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident, the comparative fault of the injured worker cannot be used to offset legal liability of the owner or general contractor.

Common categories of cases involving a violation of Section 240 of the New York State Labor Law includes falls from ladders, falls from scaffolding, falls from roofs, falls from buildings under construction without proper fall protection, falls within openings in floors on construction sites and other falls from heights (no specific height requirement) on a construction site.  Section 240 also provides protection to workers for material being hoisted falling upon a worker or material falling that should have been secured for the purposes of the undertaking.

241(6) Labor Law – Violation of a Specific Provision of Industrial Code:

There is another category of case where the plaintiff can prove a violation of a Industrial Code provision, which imposes a specific requirement.  This category of case is brought pursuant to Section 241(6) of the New York State Labor law as against the owner and general contractor.

241(6) cases commonly are trip and falls over debris or construction materials, trip and falls on pathways or work areas, injuries due to sharp projections; injuries from demolition, injuries due to improperly maintained equipment, such as saws without guards, electrical shocks, hand propelled vehicles, injuries related to concrete work, and injuries due to trenches.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but merely an example of the some of the common types of actionable accidents supported by a violation of an Industrial Code provision therefore permitting a third party action pursuant to New York State Labor Law 241(6).

Frequently Asked Questions – Construction Site Accident:

The first and most important thing to do is to obtain necessary medical treatment.  Once you are in a stabilized situation medically, the next required step is to contact your employer for the purposes of securing workers’ compensation insurance information and coverage for your accident.  In order to perfect the claim, there will be an employee accident report (C-3 Form) that will have to be completed and submitted to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. At this point it is best to be represented by a lawyer familiar with construction related accidents (not just workers’ compensation law), but also third-party construction related lawsuits.  If there are any co-workers that witnessed your accident or responded to the scene, try and have them secure photographs of the condition that caused your accident.

All injured construction workers are entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits.  Workers’ Compensation Benefits provide a portion of lost earnings and medical coverage throughout the period of disability and depending upon the level of disability may be entitled to life long benefits.  In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, the injured construction worker or tradesman may have a third party lawsuit.

In a construction related accident, your medical bills will be paid for via workers’ compensation coverage.  It is important that your claim is set up in a timely manner, in order for your to have the insurance company information (including the claim number) available to the medical providers for the purposes of them billing the workers’ compensation carrier directly.  One of the benefits of workers’ compensation coverage, is once the medical provider has accepted the right to bill your workers’ compensation carrier for medical treatment, whatever they are not paid, you are not responsible for any balance. The medical provider’s sole remedy is the workers’ compensation carrier.

Workers’ compensation benefits provide for a portion of lost wages.  In order to determine the average weekly wage, the gross earnings (including overtime and other compensation) on an annualized basis must be determined and divided by 52.  The average weekly amount is then reduced by 1/3rd (you get 2/3rd of your AWW), which is then applied to the percentage of disability. If totally disabled, then 100%. The average weekly wage is subject to the maximum weekly benefit in effect.

A third-party lawsuit is a regular lawsuit that maybe filed in addition to the workers’ compensation claim.  In New York, you cannot sue your employer pursuant to Section 11 of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law.  The third-party lawsuit is a claim against a party other than your employer, who’s fault (actual or legal) contributed to happening of the accident.  Most third-party lawsuits in construction site related cases arise from violations of Section 240(1) or Section 241(6) of the New York State Labor Law.  These two provisions impose a non-non-delegable duty upon the owner (of a qualified property) and general contractor of the construction site. There are of course other categories of cases where another contractor or employee thereof was a contributing factor the cause of the accident.

A third-party lawsuit is conditioned upon proving legal liability.  Assuming legal liability is established, the categories of damages are all damages that have been sustained as a result of the construction site accident.  Damages are divided into economic and non-economic categories. Economic damages include past lost earnings, future lost earnings, past medical bills and future medical bills.  Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life, both past and future. The third-party lawsuit encompasses all damages arising from the accident, and at the point of resolution, the injured worker must reconcile the recovery with the workers’ compensation benefits paid by the workers’ compensation carrier.  This is called a workers’ compensation lien, which is subject to statutory and/or negotiated reduction.

If you have the basis for a third-party lawsuit as a result of your construction site related accident, you do not have to chose between the two.  Your workers’ compensation claim is as a matter of law as against the insurance company providing workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of your employer.  The workers’ compensation case proceeds via the Workers’ Compensation Board and before Workers’ Compensation Judges. The regular lawsuit is filed against parties other than your employer and proceeds in the regular court system.  They therefore proceed entirely on two separate tracks.

Workers’ compensation benefits may last a life time.  Specifically, the benefits are subject to your degree of disability.  The first category is Temporary Total Disability (not being able to work on a temporary basis);  the second Temporary Partial Disability (not being able to earn full wages on a temporary basis – benefits subject to percentage of disability); the third Permanent Total Disability (complete loss of ability to work and benefits continue for life) and Permanent Partial Disability – Non-Scheduled loss (you lost some part of ability too work.  May receive up to 10 years of lost wage benefits and at the point when your benefits are set to expire you may qualify for lifetime benefits if you lost more than 75 percent of wage earning capacity. Please note that medical care is a lifetime benefit.

If the construction workers or tradesman on the job accident results in death, the workers’ spouse and children will share 2/3rds of the average weekly wage (up to the maximum amount).  Children receive the benefit until tuning 18 or 23 if they attend college. The spouse receives the benefit for life or until remarriage (at the time of remarriage the spouse would receive a final payment of two years of benefits).   In addition to the workers’ compensation claim, the family of the decedent may file a wrongful death lawsuit against any party that maybe responsible in part for the accident either by fact or law. New York State has some of the most protective laws that provide construction workers third-party actions (a regular lawsuit).  If your loved one has lost their life on a construction site, there is no substitute for a detailed analysis by a law firm fully familiar with the New York State Labor Laws.

No.  It is entirely appropriate to have one firm representing the injured construction worker in the workers’ compensation claim and another firm representing the same worker in a third-party lawsuit.  In fact, this is our recommendation as specialization is a factor that we believe ads value.

Yes.  Of course you are free to treat with any provider that you are comfortable with.  However, please understand that the provider must accept workers’ compensation coverage as workers’ compensation coverage is primary over all other forms of medical coverage as a result of an on the job construction related accident.

Our firm has represented numerous undocumented construction workers involved in construction related accidents.  In New York State the construction worker whether documented or not, has a right to workers’ compensation benefits and has a right to avail themselves  of a regular lawsuit in our court system without any retaliation. In fact, our firm has collected millions on behalf of undocumented construction workers injured on the job.  We have yet to see one of our undocumented clients being deported for maintaining a claim for personal injury. If you are undocumented, do not leave your claim on the table for fear of false repercussions.  

In New York it is illegal for an employer to fire a worker for making a workers’ compensation claim.  However, even with an open workers’ compensation claim an employer maybe able to fire or layoff for other reasons that do not have to do with the workers’ compensation claim.

No it does not.  We have seen this attempt of covering up an on the job accident by subcontractor employers that may not have you properly listed on their workers’ compensation policy.  We have seen time and time again, this false promise almost always fails to deliver, and then we as a law firm are faced with the more difficult task of untangling a web of lies.  Your will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits whether listed on the policy or not.

Yes.  For the most part our firm goes into the field to conduct home visits and intakes.  Your comfort and convenience is our priority. We want to meet with you at a time and place that is most convenient to you in order to afford us the necessary time to obtain all the required information to set up your claim.

No.  If a injured construction worker does not feel they are receiving adequate representation, you are free to change counsel.  Of course before taking on a case handled by another attorney the incoming firm must have a clear understanding of the nature of the case and issues involved.  If the change of attorney is without cause, the legal fee is divided between the outgoing law firm and incoming law firm based upon agreement or court order. We have substituted other firms in construction accident cases and our clients have been quite happy they made the change. 

You would be entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits from the Uninsured Employer’s Fund.  If you also have a third-party lawsuit, the lawsuit is filed against parties other than your employer, so the lack of insurance coverage your employer affords, will not preclude your claims.

There is never a charge for any consultation.  We even will come to you at no charge to you. The value of a construction related third-party lawsuit is quite significant, and we will devote whatever time is required to determine if there is a viable case at no charge to you.

Our fee is governed by a standard retainer agreement pursuant to New York State Law.  We pay all the necessary expenses in the prosecution of the case, and if upon recovery the legal fee is either 1/3rd of the net (after expenses are deducted) or 1/3rd of the gross.  This election made on the retainer agreement as to which option you prefer. See the next question for more of an explanation.

There are two options on the retainer agreement (required agreement under New York State Law).  If there is no recovery, there is an option that you will not be responsible for repayment of any expenses.  Under this option the legal fee is calculated as 1/3rd of the gross recovery. The other option is to remain responsible for expenses if there is no recovery.  In this circumstance, the legal fee is 1/3rd of the net recovery. Nonetheless, which ever option you chose, our firm has yet to seek reimbursement of expenses where there has been no recovery from any client.

This is actually the easiest question to answer.  Call our firm. We are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery as a result of any injury to a construction worker or tradesman.  This is a category of law that our firm prides itself in and we will do everything possible to advance the cause of our client’s involved in construction related accidents.

No Substitute for Experience in Construction Site Accident Cases:

When involved in a construction related accident in NYC or State of New York, in addition to a claim for workers’ compensation, there is no substitute to an in depth analysis of the specific facts of a construction related accident to explore the potential of a third party case.

Any construction worker involved in a work related accident in addition to a potential workers’ compensation claim, should also consult with an attorney fully familiar with the New York State Labor Law and its relation to work related accidents. New York State has more progressive legislation in place to protect construction workers than many other States.

Construction workers are exposed significant risks of work related injuries, and deserve every protection that the law provides. Our firm has significant experience in handling construction related matters, and it is our honor and privilege to fight to protect the workers that build our great City and State of New York.

Our firm takes great pride is doing everything we can for an injured construction worker.

If you or someone you care for has been injured in a construction related accident, please contact our office for a free, no obligation consultation.  Just getting the call even if it turns out to not be a qualifying case provides our firm with the privilege to be of service to members of the construction trade.


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