Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, L.L.P.

Queens Construction Accident

The construction industry is one of the largest job sectors in country's economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are about 5.5 million employed construction workers in the United States based on the latest census. Although there is a large job market in the construction field, it still remains one of the most dangerous professions. According to another study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the construction industry is also one of the most dangerous. In 2013, a total of 4,585 workers from all sectors died on the job. Out of those 4,585 people, a total of 828 construction workers died on-site. In other terms, one in every five worker deaths resulted from a construction accident. In the event of a serious construction accident, a lawsuit may seem like a daunting task; however, it can be comforting to know that our Queens construction accident lawyers are experts in this field and will make every effort to relieve your financial burden.

If you were injured or a loved one has died in a construction accident, please do not hesitate to call us at 212.406.1700 or contact us online for your free consultation. Our Queens Construction accident attorneys will review your claim and evaluate whether or not you may have a meritorious personal injury lawsuit.

Significant New York Construction Labor Laws

It is pertinent to mention that New York has very strict labor laws that allow a construction worker to sue the owner, general contractor, or their agent if they violated any of these laws. The most common labor laws that are cited are Labor Laws 240(1) and 241(6).

Labor Law 240(1) is commonly referred to as the “Scaffold Law” because it is mainly targeted towards elevation-related injuries. 240(1) requires that certain safeguards be taken for the “erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning, or pointing of a building or structure. If these safeguards are not properly enforced then the State holds the owner/general contractor/agent under absolute or strict liability for any injuries that occur as a result. Absolute or strict liability refer to the fact that precedents make it very clear that as long as a violation of the statute proximately results in an injury, the owner’s lack of notice or knowledge of the incident is not a valid defense. In other words, even if the owner or general contractor was not physically in control of the situation or was unaware of the issue, it is legally irrelevant. If the violation of 240(1) statute resulted in an injury of any employee, the owner/general contractor/agent is liable for any damages. A violation of 240(1) must be related to work that is affected by gravity. A falling worker, an object falling on a worker, or a worker being stuck between two objects are all cases that fall under the mandatory characteristics of a “gravity-related injury”.

There used to be an exception to this criterion where a worker wouldn’t be able to sue if they were injured from a minimal height. In a recent years this exception has been ruled against. The new standard of whether there should be a minimum elevation to constitute a violation was decided in Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, Inc. The facts of the case show that the plaintiff suffered serious permanent damage to both of his hands when he and his coworkers were given a task to lower an 800-pound reel of wire down four stairs. The workers were instructed to wrap a rope around the reel and act as counter-weights in order to guide the reel horizontally down the few steps toward a metal bar. The workers weren’t able to control the speed of the descent of the reel due to its immense weight. Experts later testified that a pulley or a hoist should have been utilized to move the reel safely down the stairs. The court ruled that the elevation differential involved cannot be viewed as minuscule, particularly given the weight of the object and the amount of force it was capable of generating. As a result, construction workers that were injured from any height can bring a 240(1) lawsuit against the owner or general contractor.

Labor Law 241(6) places vicarious liability on the owner or general contractor when section 23 of the industrial code has been violated. Section 23 explains all the necessary safety steps that must be taken in the event of demolition, construction, or excavation of a building or structure. In essence the labor law 241(6) places an undelegable duty upon the owner and general contractor to create a safe working environment for their employees and supply all the necessary safety equipment. An owner or general contractor cannot use the excuse that they gave the responsibility of overseeing all the safety requirements to someone else. It is strictly their duty to ensure safety of their workers.

If you have recently been injured in a construction accident and the episode fits one of these labor laws, you may have a valid lawsuit. Our Queens construction accident attorneys have decades of experience handling labor law-related lawsuits and would be happy to assist you with your claim.

Exemptions to Labor Laws 240 & 241 in Queens Construction Accidents

The only exemptions to both labor laws are that only employees can benefit from the statutes protections. Volunteers or people that are not part of the project, like passersby, cannot benefit from labor laws 240 and 241. In addition, owners of one or two family dwellings who hired construction workers but do not direct or control work cannot be targeted by a lawsuit under 240 or 241. Architects and engineers are also exempt under the same pretenses. Nevertheless, it is still possible to file a general personal injury claim if your injuries were inflicted due to the negligence of any party.

Types of Queens Construction Site Injuries

As the aforementioned statistics show, the construction site can be a very hazardous place. Severe injury is very common when a construction accident occurs in Queens. In particular, OSHA has documented the top four leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites. They include falls, followed by or being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught between two objects. OSHA has classified these as “Construction’s Fatal Four”. These four causes were responsible for 57.7% of all the construction worker fatalities in 2013.

  • Falls – 302 out of 828 construction workers died due to falling from a high elevation.
  • Struck by Object – 84 workers were killed by an object that fell and struck them.
  • Electrocutions – 71 workers died from being electrocuted on the job.
  • Caught in Between – 21 construction workers in 2013 were impaled and trapped between two objects that caused their unfortunate deaths.

Effectively protecting workers from these four causes would save the lives of 478 people each year in the United States.

Recoverable Types of Compensation Following a Queens Construction Accident

When an injury or death occurs at the worksite, the injured worker or the families of the deceased could recover compensation for their injuries and financial loss. Our Queens Construction accident lawyers understand that recovering compensation for a lost family member or severe extended injuries would not solve all of your problems and distress. Nevertheless, the compensation that you may receive will relieve some of your financial burden that comes with a sudden death or major injury. The types of compensation that can be recovered includes the following:

Medical Bills – A severe construction-related injury may result in the worker needing to be hospitalized and receive long-term care. These bills will start to accumulate and become a heavy burden on you and your family, but our attorneys can help relieve that pressure.

Lost Wages – Due to major injuries, you may not be able to return to work for an extended period of time, which would limit your flow of income. You may recover the wages that you have lost from not being able to work due to the injuries that you have incurred on the job.

Pain and Suffering – Some more severe cases, an injured construction worker may experience long-lasting or permanent pain and suffering from their injuries. You may sue for any constant pain and loss of enjoyment of life that may accompany your injuries.

Wrongful Death – As was demonstrated earlier, it is very common for a construction worker to die on the job. In this type of case, the decedent’s family has the right to sue for all the aforementioned types of compensation as well as funeral costs and the economic value of the los of a parent.

How Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool Can Help You?

If you or a loved one was injured or have died in a construction accident and you decide to retain our legal services, we would begin by thoroughly reviewing your claims. Our attorneys would work closely with you in order to determine if you may have a valid lawsuit under a violation of the Labor Laws or a general negligence claim. After determining that you may have a meritorious lawsuit, we will then build your case through conducting an extensive investigation and interviewing all the applicable witnesses. Then we will employ the services of various experts to determine what we believe is the maximum amount of compensation that is appropriate for your individual situation. In addition, our Queens Construction accident attorneys have over 50 years of experience and are always prepared to go to trial if necessary. It is also pertinent to mention that our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not be charged for our services unless we recover compensation for your losses. Call us to schedule your free consultation regarding your claim at 212.406.1700 or contact us online.

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