Working on a construction site can be one of the most dangerous jobs. The New York Construction Accident Guide was created by personal injury attorney Stuart Glassmith to help residents obtain the maximum benefits available after an accident.
Working at or visiting a construction site in New York can be dangerous. Despite the inherent risks created by the environment, you still have a right to safety and legal remedies in the event that you’re hurt because of the negligence of another person, contractor, sub-contractor, or business. If you were hurt in a construction accident, contact a New York construction accident lawyer to learn about your rights and discuss your potential legal claim.
Personal Injury or Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Depending on why you were on the construction site and your relationship to the contractor or sub-contractor associated with the project, your injury could be treated as a personal injury claim or a workers’ compensation claim. However, in many instances, workers’ compensation does not provide adequate help for construction workers who are hurt on the job site.
Contractors Must Provide Proper Protection and Safety Equipment for Workers.
Under Labor Law 240(1), contractors and their agents must provide certain things to workers who participate in erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, and even cleaning a building or other structure if they use ropes, irons, braces, pulleys, blocks, slings, ladders, hangers, hoists, scaffolds, or similar devices. Gravity related accidents, meaning a worker falls from a height or an object falls and hits the worker, are one of the most common types of construction accidents in New York. They can cause serious injury and death.
New York Construction Accident Lawyers Help Victims Sue the Right People
Construction accidents can be complicated. A business or person wants to build, renovate, demolish, or even add-on to a building or structure. They may hire a general contractor. The general contractor may have employees or they may hire sub-contractors who are contracted to complete certain aspects of the job. The sub-contractors may have their own employees or contract workers who help them on a project-by-project basis. Then, there are companies and individuals who deliver materials, heavy machinery operators, and others who come and go on the site. So, knowing exactly who may be responsible for what happened to you isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright complicated. That’s where the help of a New York construction accident lawyer is invaluable.
Under the law, construction accidents rely on a concept known as liability. While there are special laws that help protect construction workers who are hurt, it can still be quite complicated to untangle who is responsible for what happened to you.
What about Insurance?
A New York construction accident lawyer can help victims and their families figure out who is responsible. This is important because existing insurance companies should be notified of a claim. Yet, even insurance companies don’t always treat victims and their families in a way that’s fair. A lawyer can help ensure that you’re getting the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Insurance companies often pressure accident victims to settle. Be careful and make sure that you talk to a lawyer before you sign anything. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you’re no longer allowed to pursue any sort of compensation for your injuries. So, if you need future medical care or nursing care because of your injuries, you wouldn’t be able to get additional money and you’d also lose your right to sue.
What Sort of Compensation Is Available for Construction Accident Victims in New York?
All construction accidents are different. Even accidents that seem similar in nature can include facts that can change what sort of compensation the victim may receive. The most common types of compensation include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Medical bills associated with the injury
- Future medical costs associated with the injury
- Lost wages
- Permanent disability
- Final expenses
- Punitive damages
Punitive damages are generally awarded only in cases that have extreme injuries.
Common Construction Accidents
In New York, the most common construction accidents are:
- Falling from a scaffold, roof, or ladder
- Failing equipment, including cranes
- Injuries that crush limbs
- Elevator shaft accidents
- Openings without warning signs
- Falling objects
- Injuries caused by a trench collapse
- Excavation injuries
- Falling through a construction floor
- Accidents in highway or street work zones
- Violations of state safety regulations
- Exposure to toxic materials or substances
Frequently Asked Questions | New York Construction Accident Guide
What Should I Do After the Accident?
It’s very important that counsel is sought out right away, in part because we want to preserve and go after some of the things that could help investigate what exactly happened. It’s not so much an issue of anyone covering up, but a lot of times when you have a scene, whether the accident site itself and the parties that may be involved you want to look into these things immediately, and this is something that your lawyers will do for you and they actually undertake an investigation. This is something that we do and we’re very experienced at doing. It’s something we do all the time, so we know what to look for in terms of finding all of the right parties, who you may not even know or know who should be responsible in these types of accidents.
As you know and many of you have heard, whether it’s a height-related fall or just a fall at the site itself, often there are parties who are responsible who you wouldn’t even think are the ones under the law of who are responsible. This is something that’s very important to be investigated right away, so that all the things are known and that we can properly represent you as part of the case.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Construction Accident Claim?
In the realm of personal injury, while there are all different levels of sophistication, from basic incidents to more complex incidents, construction accidents tend to be more complex depending on the entities involved. You often have many different entities involved. You may have sub-contractors, a general contractor who should be overseeing the worksite and even the owner, especially when it comes to height-related type incidents.
You have all these contracts, and insurances that play into liability. When you have all these interplays between all these different entities, with lots of different construction language, lots of different documents, it’s important that you seek out an experienced counsel, one who has a lot of experience in handling these type of construction claims, so that you make sure all of your rights are properly being defended and that you’re getting all of the fair compensation that you deserve.
What Mistakes Can I Avoid?
One of the most important things to keep in mind if you are in a construction accident in New York and you want to seek recovery (which you’re entitled to under the law, for not just your wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills) is to immediately seek out counsel. Nothing good will come from waiting. There is certain investigation that can be undertaken by your attorneys or by investigators that they hire to look into the specifics of what happened at the site. Something as simple as perhaps getting photos of the site to use to give a better image of what happened, or to look into what investigation can be done by the defendants after the accident.
There are also strict timelines depending on if there are certain municipalities, or the city of New York is involved or has some responsibility in an accident. There are additional stricter timelines to put people on notice, so it’s important you immediately seek out counsel so that your attorney can judge and weigh how quickly to prosecute the claim in terms of sending out these notices, and bringing an immediate lawsuit. Because of the statutory timelines, both for municipalities and in general, it’s important to immediately seek out that attorney that can help you out in this case. Waiting is not going to do you any good.
Should I Tell Management About My Injury?
Whether it be the boss, or whether people who are in the supervisory positions at the worksite, it’s very important to relay your incident and what happened as best you can to the people who are working at the construction site. This will allow the superiors to document what happened.
You don’t want to have some type of thing where they can say it’s an un-witnessed accident or it’s an accident that wasn’t properly recorded, or they didn’t know anything about it. Don’t be worried when it comes to that. You let people know what happened. Ask for help. Let it be documented, so that it is something that everyone knows about moving forward.
How Should I Choose My Lawyer?
When you hire a professional, especially an attorney who’s going to help you in a construction related accident, make sure they’re very experienced at it. Make sure that they have handled these construction accidents for a long period of time. Make sure that they have well apt lawyers who know the law that involves construction accidents very well.
There are all different types of areas of law, and personal injury is one sub-section of law. Make sure your attorney only deals with personal injury type actions. You should know that they’re always involved in these types of cases. It doesn’t benefit you that they’re only okay at doing lots of different types of areas of laws. You want them to be very good at doing once specific aspect of law. Even within the personal injury section, you have a subset of construction accidents. Make sure you have a firm who specifically has handled these cases many times before.
Ask for similar types of results they’ve gotten through verdicts or through settlements, and search it out to get to know your attorney, and get to know their staff. You should interview them as your prospective attorney, and make sure you have the right attorney. You want someone who’s going to work hard for you, someone you have a good relationship with, that you trust, and someone who has a lot of experience in that specific area of law.
How Long Will This Case Take?
This is a very complicated question because there are a lot of factors involved. How quickly will an insurance company want to resolve a claim? How quickly are you healing? We have to have some insight in terms of what the future will hold so that we protect your rights and make sure we are getting appropriate compensation that is more than fair for your injuries and suffering.
There are a lot of factors that come into play, but what is important is that you hire an experienced attorney who will push the case quickly and doesn’t waste any time in litigating the case. As long as that’s being done, and a fair analysis is being used to try to figure out what’s fair for you, this is something that you and your attorney can try to figure out in terms of when to settle the case. This is something that requires a lot of thought and a lot of experience in trying to push the case forward as quickly as possible.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Me?
There are all different types of incidents and there are all different types of ways in which it may be covered or it may not be covered. One of the important things to consider is that, if you are working at a job site and you are employed, and you are in the course and scope of your employment, you may very well be covered under Worker’s Compensation Law, separate and distinct from being able to prosecute your personal injury claim. What that means is you could be entitled to Worker’s Compensation benefits, whether that’s recuperation of wages that you lost, repayment of your medical bills that are outstanding, or a disability that you sustained. If you’re working at a job site, you should seek out counsel to look into the specifics, and you shouldn’t concern yourself with whether you may just be working for that day, as a day-laborer, or whether you’ve been working there for a very long time. There are very specific rules and things how these cases work, so it’s important to seek out a counsel to make sure that your rights are being protected. Don’t assume that you aren’t covered because of your unique situation; you may very well be.
How Does the Construction Accident Insurance Investigation Work?
In the State of New York insurance companies for either your employer, for the general contractor employer, or even the owner of the building will often try to reach out to you. This can be either through an investigator, through a person that works for the company, or even through writing you a letter or calling you on the phone. I do not recommend, early on in a case, speaking with these insurance company’s investigators.
To keep it simple, their interests are going to be their employers’ interest; they’re going to be with the insurance company’s interest, or the carrier’s interest, or the eventual defendant’s interest. While it’s important to report a claim to your employer when you’re on the job site, to whoever may be there, in terms of speaking with the investigators or the insurance companies for construction defendants, I don’t recommend doing that until you’ve consulted with your own counsel. You may innocently say something that they may try to turn in a way and use it against you, so this is something you want to be careful with.
Can I Take the First Settlement Offer?
Through the years in representing many people and victims who have been injured in these construction accidents, we know that these cases sometimes take some time. As fast as we are at pushing them – and your attorney will want to move the case forward – these cases often have a lot of value because there’s often a lot of bad injuries. What’s important to keep in mind is there will be offers made throughout a case, and often there is an initial offer. Not always, but it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t always take that first offer. It depends on what is fair.
Often, insurance companies will send out a feeler or will hope that your attorney will want to get it over quickly and not do a lot of work on the case. Maybe you feel that you need the money quickly, so it’s important to really trust your attorney on whether the offer is fair. While it’s not an absolute bar not to take a first offer, it’s something to keep in mind that that’s not always going to be your best offer. You have to weigh the things you’re going through in life, keep in mind what your attorney tells you, what he feels could be appropriate or what he may be able to achieve as a future settlement offer, which may be in much greater excess than the initial offer by the insurance company.
What Compensation Can I Get?
You may know from hearing this through TV and books that one of the most known rights is that you get compensated if you prove that the defendants had some responsibility. The defendants can be the contractor, sub-contract, owner of the building, etc. You get compensated for your pain and suffering as a result of this accident. This would be both your past pain and suffering, from the moment of the accident – which is some of the worst time that you had to endure – all the way through the present time and even moving into the future.
Often, people who do types of construction and labor work have to use their bodies, and they have to be on their feet, and they have to use parts of their body that may be injured in the accident. This is obviously something that makes it even harder for them to work. This is not a desk job they can return to. This is the type of job that you need to be feeling good and have your ability to do. Even something that might be minor moving forward could be a big deal to someone who has to use their hands at work on a daily basis. That’s the first thing. These numbers can be very large; it all depends on the type of injuries that you sustained.
This is something that we’re excellent in maximizing. We spend a lot of time showing, the insurance company or perhaps the jury, a glimpse into your life of what you’re going through and everything you’ve been through. This is not just based on all the medical records and everything you’ve had to go through and endure, but also on a real life, every day basis of how your life has changed and how the things that were simple now aren’t so simple anymore and you can no longer do as much. This is very important that you get a good experienced person who cares about your case.
The other thing that’s important to keep in mind is your medical bills. This is another aspect of the claim that you’re going to be compensated for. This is to be reimbursed, not just past medical bills, but any medical bills can be reasonably expected into the future. This has to be kept in mind when resolving a case because you don’t want to settle a case and then one day, years later, have all these other medical bills that you now are responsible for. This is something that has to be considered and taken care of as part of your compensation when you hire a lawyer.
Another point I would try to add to this is also your lost wages. If you’re not able to work and you’re not able to get money that you would have gotten otherwise, this also has to be part of the compensation package that is given to you or recouped as a result of your lawsuit.
Will My Case Be Different If I Fell from a Ladder?
One of the more common situations that clients come to us for when they’re involved in construction accidents is a fall from a height and more specifically, a fall from a ladder. This could be any type of ladder, whether it be an A-frame ladder, or a ladder that rest across a building. Often clients don’t know that there are certain expectations and responsibilities, not just of their employer, but also the general contractor and the owner to ensure that not only are you using a proper ladder that’s allowing you to do your job, but also whether it’s being held by someone else, and whether the rubber feet are in place. There are a lot of things that are expected when you have a situation where you’re using a ladder.
Should you be injured in such an accident, your claim gives you these extra protections in the state of New York because it’s considered a height-related incident. Due to that, you have extra protections, and extra layers of entities that may be responsible. This is something that we’re able to assist you with in helping you prosecute your claim.
How Does the NY Scaffold Law Protect Me?
In the state of New York, construction workers are granted certain protections if they fall from a height. This is very important because often, lots of construction work that is done here in the state of New York is done from a height or a raised level basis, whether you’re on scaffolding, a roof, an elevator system, or even if you’re working from a ladder, there are certain extra protections given to construction workers in the state of New York should you fall from a height. In large part, they want the liability not only to fall on your employer, but also to the owner of the buildings, also the general contractors.
This law puts lots of responsibilities on lots of different parties, to all make sure proper safety fall protection devices are in place so that you don’t get hurt. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. That’s why it’s important to seek counsel to assist you in making sure you can get the proper protections afforded to you under the law. What’s very good about this law is it gives very strict and strong protections to workers who are injured in these types of height-related incidents. This is something that is very fortunate for workers with respect to the state of New York because this is not something that every state necessarily gives. These are often extra protections that the state of New York gives to their workers.
How Much Money Is My Case Going to Get?
It’s important to understand, when you first seek out counsel in a case, it’s very hard to tell you exactly how much money you would put in your pocket or how much money you’ll be compensated for such an injury because there’s lots of factors involved. One of the most important factors is how you are going to do over time.
While we could look into the past medical history and we could understand what your injuries are up to this point, it’s very important to let it play out for a little bit to see how you’re going to do in the future. It’s very important that your attorney seeks out very fair compensation for you moving into the future. This will be for the future pain and suffering, how your life is going to be affected, wages that may be lost, future medical bills, and the pain and suffering that you may be experiencing 15 years down the line. While it might not be a non-stop agonizing pain, that’s not the point. Even if it’s something that prevents you from doing things that you’re normally used to doing – whether it’s something as basic as carrying your kids around on your back and running around or it was an exercise routine or something simpler as just getting out of bed quickly and taking those few steps – it’s important to understand how your life is going to be affected.
Once that is understood and once we have a better understanding of how you’re going to be, we have a much better sense of the proper compensation. I can tell you that it’s important that you hire an experienced New York construction accident lawyer who’s going to fight for every last dollar for you, and make sure that you’re fairly compensated. This is your one and only chance to get compensated. It’s important to hire a good, experienced attorney, someone who’s going to fight hard for you, so that you don’t look back one day and think you could have gotten more.
Contact Our Dedicated Construction Accident Lawyers
Are you struggling with your daily life following a construction accident? Our dedicated New York injury lawyers can help you win the compensation that you deserve. If you have any questions, please call our office today for a free consultation.