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Working in construction pays well but can also be a dangerous profession. Each year, there are accidents across the nation involving construction workers. And, you can expect that number to increase, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that construction employment is on track to continue increasing over the next few years. More than ten million people are employed in the construction field nationwide.
Construction workers perform a variety of important tasks that can involve anything from a private home job to towering commercial structures. However, they carry out their job duties with great risk to their own safety. Even just being on a construction site can come with significant risk of injury.
If you were injured in a construction-related accident, your rights will vary based on whether you were working for a contractor on site or not. If you we a bystander who was injured on a construction site, then you will pursue recovery in the normal course by way of a personal injury action.
However, if you were a construction worker who was injured while working, it becomes more complicated. Workers who are injured on the job may have multiple sources available for compensation, depending on the situation. They may be able to collect worker's compensation benefits through their employer's carrier and may also be able to sue a subcontractor or negligent third party directly.
Importance of Retaining a Downtown NYC Construction Accident Lawyer Immediately
One of the reasons you want to retain an attorney immediately after the accident is to start a proper investigation that will prove liability against the at-fault party/parties. When you retain a construction accident attorney right away, they will immediately start an investigation. The investigation may include getting someone out to the construction site, making sure any video is preserved, as well as photos, and speaking with witnesses whose statements can be recorded.
As the case moves along, court orders may be obtained to secure pertinent evidence and testimony that will assist in your recovery.
Who Is Held Liable for Downtown New York City Construction Site Accidents?
Determining liability in a construction accident is going to be vastly different for every case. Not every situation is the same, which means you need someone on your side to ensure all liable parties are held accountable. In many situations, the fault may be apportioned between multiple parties. This can mean not just a single person or company was responsible for your injuries.
Workers' Compensation Claims
Workers' compensation is a form of coverage and is the only option to file a claim against your employer if you are injured under New York law. Any company doing construction work has to carry a policy that provides workers' compensation coverage for its workers. The coverage is mandatory, and all workers are covered by it. With worker's compensation coverage, when you file a claim you don't need to prove your employer did something wrong in order to receive benefits.
Workers' compensation benefits do have some limitations, however. The act extends benefits to someone who was injured on the job or suffered an occupational disease that arises out of the “course and scope” of their employment, no matter who was at fault. Even if you as the employee were partially at fault, workers' compensation benefits will still apply. However, if it is determined that the accident occurred when the employee was not acting in the course and scope of their duties, then worker's comp. may not be applicable.
Third-Party Liability for Negligence in Construction Accidents
Workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for filing a claim against your employer (injured workers cannot bring personal injury suits directly against their employers). However, there may be specific circumstances that allow you to file a third-party liability claim against another party. Workers' compensation does not compensate a worker for anything beyond medical expenses, loss of earnings, and permanent disability. This is not enough to cover injured workers for all of their damages. This is where other remedies can be beneficial if available.
If there are other liable parties, like other contractors or subcontractors, or even a manufacturer, then the victim can bring a claim against them. However, it differs from workers' compensation coverage in that you need to prove negligence in order to receive any financial compensation.
Determining who is responsible for your accident can be a challenging process. There are multiple companies, products, and people involved in a construction job. Some of these parties include general contractors, subcontractors, property owners, engineers, architects, and more. Anyone working on a project has a duty to ensure the conditions are safe for those workers completing their jobs. Manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to ensure the products they produce, and supply, are safe and won't endanger people.
If a product has a faulty design or is manufactured incorrectly and someone is injured while using it, the company needs to be held accountable. The only difference is when an employee of the company who manufactures the product is the one injured. Once again, there would be an exclusive remedy of workers' compensation benefits.
The advantage to someone being able to file a third-party liability claim is the potential for far greater recovery than what you would receive in a workers' compensation claim. Retaining the right Downtown NYC construction injury lawyer is critically important in determining what remedies are available in your particular situation. If you retain a personal injury firm that doesn't have experience with construction accidents, they may not identify the parties that you can file a third-party liability claim against. Using a skilled firm means they will go the extra mile to investigate possible negligence by all parties, thereby increasing the potential for recovery from outside sources.
You may be wondering how being partially at fault for your accident will affect your ability to file a third-party liability claim against someone. You may even be surprised to learn it won't necessarily keep you from pursuing compensation. New York follows what's known as the comparative negligence principle. This means that even if you are partially at fault for your own injuries, you can still recover a portion of your damages from the other at-fault parties. For example, if it's determined you are 20 percent at fault for your injuries, you can collect up to 80 percent of your overall damages from the other party or entities.
Understanding the Difference Between Workers' Compensation and Third-Party Claims
A construction accident can result in devastating consequences for both the worker and their family. And then having to deal with both the workers' compensation aspect and the court system can become overwhelming. At Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC we have years of experience helping injured workers pursue third-party liability claims.
Understanding the difference between how these systems work can be confusing, especially when you are trying to concentrate on getting through the pain of your injuries. With a workers' compensation claim, you are required to see a doctor approved by your worker's comp. carrier.
In some situations, a workers' compensation doctor may try to limit your treatment or prevent you from getting the level of care that you really need. By pursuing a third-party liability claim, you will be free to see a doctor who you choose rather than one working for your employer. Remember, a workers' compensation doctor is not always on your side, and reports back to your employer and the insurance company.
You may also be subjected to an IME or an independent medical examination. Despite its name, it's really not independent at all. IME doctors work for the workers' compensation carriers. If they report back information that is beneficial to you and encourage additional treatment and money being spent, the carrier won't hire them again.
Common Types of Accidents on a Downtown NYC Construction Site
As mentioned previously, bystanders or people passing near a local construction site have the risk of being hurt as well. The tradesmen who work these jobs obviously are exposed to the greatest risk. Some of the more common causes of construction site accidents can include:
- Falling: Not surprisingly, one of the most common causes of construction accidents involves falls. It can be from the roof of a single-story house or the scaffolding on a skyscraper. If someone survives even a low fall, there can be serious and permanent injuries.These injuries may include fractured bones, head injuries, paralysis, internal organ damage, etc. Slip and falls can happen anywhere, on a ladder, bridge, crane, scaffolding, roof, etc. If there is inadequate safety gear, another employee's error (like a crane operator), or any other type of negligence, it can result in someone falling. Hiring the right scaffold accident lawyer can get you the compensation you're entitled to.
- Machinery Accidents: Machines, tools, and other construction equipment can lead to an increased risk of injury. And, what happens if any of these happen to malfunction? That could lead to injuring a bystander or the machine operator as well. Some injuries include flying shrapnel, crushed limbs, and even death.
- Vehicular Accidents: Vehicles can crash because of driver negligence, or they can malfunction. When they are involved in an accident, other people, like a pedestrian or the vehicle operator, can be injured.
- Electrocution: Electrical wiring is used in nearly all construction jobs, which means electrocution is a major risk. If you are working with equipment and cranes near overhead wires, that can increase the risk for injury.
- Toxic Substance Exposure: There is a greater chance of being exposed to dangerous materials at a construction site. Some dangerous materials, like asbestos, chemical agents, smoke, etc. can lead to injuries or occupational illnesses.
- Collapse: Construction workers who dig tunnels or trenches are at risk of the structure collapsing. New buildings may also have structural weaknesses that could cause the building to collapse, trapping workers inside and injuring passersby. Construction workers who are working on demolition projects have an even greater risk since the building's collapse is imminent.
- Falling Objects: There is also a risk of objects falling at a construction site. These can land on workers or bystanders. Falling objects can cause significant head and brain injuries to someone.
- Respiratory Disease: Dust, dirt, chemicals, and other materials can be inhaled by workers on the job. Sometimes, this can lead to a minor infection, while other times it can lead to more serious diseases or even death.
Types of Injuries Seen with Downtown NYC Construction Accidents
There are some injuries that are more common than others in regards to construction site accidents. In most cases, injuries are severe or even catastrophic. Here is a look at some of the more common types of injuries seen from construction accidents in New York City:
- Closed head injuries
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Fractured Bones
- Skull fractures
- Permanent nerve injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputation or loss of a limb
- Severe burns
- Wrongful death
While it's the workers who are most often at risk for a serious injury on the job, those walking at or near a worksite could be in danger as well. Even if you were not an employee, but you were injured at a worksite, a Downtown NYC construction site attorney can ensure your legal rights are protected. Additionally, a skilled lawyer will also get you the compensation you deserve.
Call Us Now!
If you have sustained an injury due to the fault of another, contact the Downtown New York City Construction Accident Lawyer at Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC to get the wheels of justice spinning for you. Call 212-240-9465 now!