According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York construction workers make up approximately 5% of the city’s total workforce, yet constitute about 27% of work-related injury fatalities. Meanwhile, non-fatal construction industries leave countless workers seriously hurt and, in many cases, permanently disabled. These common construction injuries cost time, money, careers, and even lives.
Construction workers can apply for workers’ compensation benefits, but may also have the right to pursue third-party damages by way of a personal injury lawsuit. If you work in construction and have been hurt on the job, you need to know your legal rights and options. It’s time to talk to Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C.
The Most Common Construction Injuries in New York
Both nationwide and in New York, construction remains one of the most dangerous industries. Each year, numerous workers lose their lives or suffer non-fatal but irreversible and disabling injuries. A few of the most frequent types of construction injuries are those resulting from:
Falls. Accidental falls are the leading causes of construction worker injuries and deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) includes falls among its “fatal four” – the four most common types of construction-related accidents.
Struck-by injuries. Another major cause of construction injuries and deaths is so-called struck-by accidents, in which a worker is injured by a falling, swinging, or moving object. These include deaths and injuries that happen when someone is run over by a vehicle.
Electrocutions. Construction naturally places workers in proximity to significant amounts of electricity which can cause burns, shocks, and death. Nationwide, OSHA attributes nearly 9% of construction deaths to electrocution.
Caught-in/between injuries. This category of workplace injuries and deaths refers to workers being compressed by or caught in objects and equipment. It also covers collapses of machines, structures, and objects.
Fires and explosions. Workers who frequently handle flammable materials and chemicals are at constant risk of burns and death. A seemingly minor oversight can quickly trigger a fire or explosion that could cost lives.
Collapsing trenches and tunnels. Trench and tunnel work is common in New York, but performing it safely requires proper structural support. Without such support, the trench or tunnel can collapse and bury workers alive or crush them nearly to death.
Scaffolding injuries. Scaffolding accidents are so common that New York has a specific statute regulating how scaffolding is to be built, maintained, and used on construction sites (see below). Slips, falls, and falling objects are a few examples of specific injuries related to them.
Brazing and welding injuries. The use of high temperatures to fuse metals is fraught with a number of dangers such as burns, vision loss, eye injuries, and exposure to radiation. These injuries are painful and can require significant recovery time.
Exposure to toxic substances. Toxic chemicals and other substances are often integral to the construction process. Exposure often comes from the demolition of old buildings containing harmful materials, like asbestos. Injured workers can develop respiratory and other illnesses.
Repetitive motion injuries. Although any line of work that features repetitive work can be debilitating, the scale of construction-related injuries tends to be more serious. For example, workers tend to suffer repetitive motion injuries to their spines and backs.
Victims Can Expect Significant Damages
All of the above types of injuries may leave the construction worker with the following medical conditions:
- Brain injuries
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries
- Bone fractures
- Respiratory illnesses
- Vision loss
- Death, in many cases
Workers can expect to face the following damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Wrongful death damages, if the victim dies
Seeking Compensation For Your Construction Accident
Injured construction workers are not limited to filing for workers’ compensation. They may be able to seek damages from non-employer third parties whose negligence led to their injuries. These parties include property owners, general contractors, and others.
Various laws are in place to specifically protect construction workers by requiring certain parties to take steps to keep their worksites reasonably safe. There are three sections of the New York Labor Law that injured workers need to know about:
- Section 200. Construction worksites must be “constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.” Any machinery or equipment on the site must be placed, operated, guarded, and lighted to provide reasonable and adequate protection to workers.
- Section 240. This section is known as the Scaffolding or Scaffold Law. It requires certain safety features for scaffolding or staging of more than 20 feet off the ground. The objective is to ensure the scaffolding is set up so workers can be protected from falls and other serious injuries. One specific requirement of the Scaffolding Law is to have a bolted safety rail that spans the lengths and ends of the scaffold.
- Section 241. Workers who are hurt while constructing, demolishing, or doing excavation work can pursue a claim under Section 241. Subsection 6 is particularly noteworthy. This part of the law requires that any worksites where construction, demolition, or excavation work is to be performed “shall be so constructed, shored, equipped, guarded, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.”
Contact Our New York Common Construction Accident Injuries Attorney
There may be other forms of liability available to you. For example, if the equipment you were using caused an injury due to a defect, you could have a claim against its manufacturer. The most critical step you can take after experiencing a construction injury is to reach out to a dedicated personal injury lawyer. Give Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. a call now.