Construction sites are among the most dangerous workplaces in the country, with a host of potential hazards awaiting workers. A fire or explosion, while relatively rare among construction site accidents, tend to be the most serious. They can cause severe, painful, and permanent injuries, or even lead to the loss of life.
New York has enacted a number of labor laws intended to keep construction workers safe from unreasonable dangers. When general contractors, property owners, and other responsible parties ignore these rules, the health and safety of workers can unnecessarily be put in jeopardy. But the personal injury lawyers of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. are here to help victims seek the compensation they need to get their lives back to normal.
How A Fire Or Explosion Can Happen On Construction Sites
It’s well-known that construction worksites are hives of human activity, with different stages of development and many moving parts. Unfortunately, safety is not always the top concern, as workers rush to complete one phase and then get started on another. During this frenzy of work, dangers can be overlooked, leading to serious accidents such as fires and explosions.
One thing that a personal injury victim must understand is that in pursuing litigation, it will be up to that victim to explain how and why the accident occurred. This is where our thorough investigation protects you. To that end, these are a few of the most common causes:
Faulty electrical equipment and wiring. Any devices that run on electricity are susceptible to frayed wires, electricity overloads, sparking, and overheating. Placing these in the vicinity of flammable materials could cause a fire.
Heating devices. Workers routinely set up temporary heating devices during cold weather. As with other electrical equipment, these should be safely placed away from anything that could catch fire.
Chemical explosions. Gasoline and other fuels, as well as chemicals, could ignite and lead to an explosion. These materials should be safely stored in fuel drums or chemical tanks, but are not always. In some cases, construction workers cut or drill into underground gas pipelines.
Pressurized containers. Vehicle tires, pipelines, water tanks, and other containers with contents under pressure could explode if not handled carefully. Workers should be cautious to avoid over-pressurization of these containers or cutting or drilling into one.
Open flames. The controlled use of open flames, such as welding torches, is common in construction. Unattended or untrained use of open flames, however, can be disastrous.
Mishandling explosives or blasting agents. Some types of construction necessarily involve the use of explosives. This is particularly true for demolition and excavation work. From storage to detonation, extreme caution must be used with these materials.
Lack of fire suppressants. Small fires occasionally occur on construction sites, which is why adequate fire suppressant devices (such as fire extinguishers) should always be present. Without them, the fire could grow out of control and even lead to an explosion.
Disregarding safety standards. As a general matter, any violation of an OSHA or other safety rule on the construction site can be dangerous. Superintendents, property owners, and others should ensure these rules are observed and that workers are properly trained for any work that might cause a fire or explosion.
Injuries Caused By Fires And Explosions
A fire or explosion could lead to a fatal injury or one from which the worker cannot fully recover. If the construction worker survives the incident, he or she may not be able to return to the job or be self-supporting again. These are some injuries that are frequently associated with construction fires and explosions:
- Severe burns necessitating skin grafts and painful recovery
- Damage from flying or falling objects that impact the eyes, head, and other parts of the body
- Shock waves from explosions that can damage the eardrums and internal organs
- Inhalation of toxic fumes due to burning fuels or chemicals
- Being physically propelled by an explosion (e.g. thrown off of scaffolding or into a solid object)
- Injuries caused by structural collapse of a building or temporary structure such as scaffolding
Seeking Damages After A Fire Or Explosion
Although you can file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, you may also be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against third-party responsible parties. These include – among others – property owners, general contractors, and manufacturers of defective equipment. The objective of a personal injury lawsuit is to demonstrate that someone’s negligence led to your injuries.You can then recover damages greater than the compensation you received from worker’s compensation.
One of the most important things your personal injury attorney will do is investigate the accident to uncover evidence of this negligence. There may also be other official investigations (e.g. those conducted by government agencies) that can point to someone disregarding safety rules or labor laws. Sections 200 and 241 of the New York Labor Law provide specific protections to construction workers that are relevant to fire and explosion injuries. In any event, your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation and begin building a case that points to negligent acts or omissions.
Damages will vary, depending on the nature of the victim’s injuries and how severe the fire or explosion was. Some examples are:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Physical therapy
- Medical bills
- In-home personal care
- Lost income
- Lost future income (lost earning ability)
Your lawyer will work with your doctor and expert witnesses to determine past, present, and future damages that fall into these categories. For instance, a medical witness can explain to a jury a reasonable forecast of the medical treatments you will need in the future, and how much they will cost.
Determining the nature and amount of damages to demand is a process, but one which must be handled carefully. Once a judgment is awarded at the end of trial (or it settles out of court), you won’t get to return to court later to demand more compensation.
Contact Our New York Fire And Explosion Accident Attorney
Having experienced legal counsel is essential to making the strongest possible case after suffering a fire or explosion injury. That is why you can trust Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. Give our dedicated team a call. We can take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and visit you at your home or in the hospital. Reach out today.
Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. help clients with their fire or explosion accident claims throughout New York including Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, and Brooklyn.