OSHA is investigating the death of a construction worker who died due to injuries sustained at the Wynn Boston Harbor construction site in Everett, Massachusetts on Tuesday according to a report by Fox 25 News in Boston. The exact circumstances are still under investigation.
In New York, construction accidents such as the one described above touch upon various aspects of personal injury law, including the Labor Law and Wrongful Death Law. The law firm of Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, LLP has over 50 years of expertise in handling construction accident and wrongful death cases. Based on our experience, our legal analysis of this accident under New York law would necessarily involve these two aspects of the law. The New York Labor Law Section 240 was enacted to protect workers from height or gravity-related accidents. Although often called the “Scaffold Law,” it also can involve construction workers injured by materials which have fallen from a height due to improper hoisting, securing, etc. This law imposes absolute liability on owners and general contractors who violate its terms resulting in injuries to workers lawfully on the premises.
Most states, including Massachusetts, do not have a corresponding statute similar to New York’s Labor Law Section 240. In those states, the plaintiff must prove that someone other than his employer was actively negligent which resulted in the accident and subsequent injuries. This can often be very difficult to prove, particularly in the situation where the construction worker has died as he/she is not available to explain how the accident occurred. Often, the other workers at the construction site are unwilling to cooperate due to various fears of retaliation, deportation, and/or termination. OSHA can be a big help in those circumstances as they will conduct an investigation and make specific findings as to how and why an accident occurred, as well as who is to blame. Although OSHA reports typically will not be admissible in Court, they often serve as a guide for the plaintiff attorney in establishing the liability of the responsible parties in construction accident cases.
The other area of law implicated in this situation would be the law of Wrongful Death damages. In New York, the law of Wrongful Death typically involves financial or pecuniary loss to the survivors. In other, the measure of damages is how the death of the decedent affected the spouse, children, or next of kin from a financial perspective. Grief and emotional loss are not an element of damages under New York Law. In addition, New York law would also allow damages to the Estate for the value of the conscious pain and suffering endured by the decedent prior to death. The financial analysis often requires the use of an expert economist while the pain and suffering analysis often requires the use of medical experts, such as a forensic pathologist or psychiatrist, to explain what the decedent was experiencing prior to death.