Construction is considered one of the most hazardous industries and looking at the number of construction accidents in the state of New York last year, we can clearly see why.
Constructions accidents are on the rise with a recorded 24% hike in 2014 compared to the year before. This is usually contributed to booming construction mostly in New York City. Simply put – more construction, more danger. From falling cranes, malfunctioning scaffolding, electrocutions, and falling debris to machinery accidents and trench collapses, construction workers are at a great peril. It has been estimated that over a third of all work-related deaths occur in the construction industry.
Health and safety inspectors have found that quite a few construction sites in the state of New York are unsafe and inadequately regulated. In May 2015, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a worrisome report titled “The Price of Life – 2015 Report on Construction Fatalities in NYC” which, among other things, states that violation of the relevant health and safety regulations is not an exception but rather a routine in New York City. For instance, the inspectors have found out that 89% of contractors working on affordable housing project were not adhering to the proper safety rules.
Whenever a construction worker has been seriously injured or died due to work-related injuries on a construction site, OSHA has almost always found some kind of safety violation. Furthermore, OSHA states that “serious violations were cited in 80 percent of the fatal height-related construction accidents OSHA investigated in New York.”
The state of New York has a pretty strong and clear regulation concerning construction as evident in the Scaffolding Safety Law which holds those who control construction sites responsible if they do not provide adequate safety equipment and a construction worker is injured or killed as a result.
The most common construction accidents are the following:
- Falls – These are one of the most frequent construction-related injuries. Quite a lot of construction work is done at heights (scaffolding, ladders, platforms, cranes, roofs) where the risk of falling is much greater. Considering that sixty-five percent of all construction workers work on a scaffold, the risk of falling is very high.
- Slips and trips – Construction sites are places swarming with activity with a lot of construction materials, objects, and substances being moved or lying around. Oil and grease spillages are also a common cause of slips and trips.
- Machinery and equipment related accidents – Heavy machinery used in construction can malfunction and even be extremely dangerous. For instance, a nail gun can misfire, a forklift could drop the load or the machinery used on site can be poorly maintained.
- Electrocutions, fires, and explosions - Working with electricity should never be taken lightly. Hundreds of workers suffer burns and, even worse, are killed due to electrocutions each year because they lack training in electrical safety or the company they work for has failed to provide proper safety. Although fires and explosions are not that frequent, they usually result in very serious injuries or death. Exposed wiring, leaking pipes and flammable chemicals are the most common causes of fires and explosion in construction.
- Repetitive motion injuries, fatigue, and heat stroke – Most of the construction work is about hard labor. Muscles and joints are overexerted, and workers often work in extreme heat or cold which can all lead to brain and heart damage. According to OSHA, repetitive motion injuries are among the top six most hazardous construction-related injuries although they are easily preventable.
- Building and trench collapses – This is another common kind of construction accidents. When a building or a trench collapses it can kill or seriously injure those inside. Even if the cause of such construction accident cannot be determined, the legal remedy called Res Ipsa Loquitur (where the occurrence of an accident implies negligence) can be applied.
CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT CLAIMS / DAMAGES
If you or your loved one have been injured or have died as a result of a construction accident due to negligent behavior of the contractor (including general and sub-contractors), construction site supervisor, site’s landowner, design and engineering professionals or equipment / material suppliers, you might be entitled to financial compensation. It is very important that you report the injury to your supervisor / employer in writing and that you keep a copy of every document / record that might be related to your injury, including medical records. There are a lot of factors to consider in most construction accidents and finding out who is solely responsible for the construction-related injury or death could be quite a long and complex process. There are several legal options at your disposal regarding compensation and the best thing to do would be to contact a seasoned construction injury attorney who will inform you in detail of your rights.
Financial compensation could include:
- Medical bills / medical treatment
- Money that you have lost through missing work or having to pay for the hospital trips
- Costs of adapting your home or vehicle because the accident has left you disabled
- Pain and suffering directly related to the accident
- Loss of future earnings
- Punitive damages (i.e. damages that are meant to deter your employer or other subjects who were held liable for your accident from engaging in similar practices for which they have been sued by you).
The two main ways of settling a personal injury case (as your personal injury lawyer will inform you) are through:
Formal lawsuit - Which typically starts when an individual (“The Plaintiff”) files a civil complaint against another person, company or government body (“The Defendant”).
Informal settlement – Many personal injury claims are resolved through an informal settlement which is a form of a negotiation between the Plaintiff and his or hers lawyer, on one side, and the Defendant, on the other. If an informal settlement is reached, the two sides agree to forego filing of a formal lawsuit and choose to resolve the matter through an agreeable financial compensation.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitations is a legal term that implies a certain time period within which the Plaintiff has to file a lawsuit in the civil court system. Generally, in the state of New York, the statute of limitations for construction accidents is three years from the date the injury has occurred, but if the Plaintiff is filing a lawsuit against the government or one of its bodies, the statute of limitations varies.
- The Plaintiff has 90 days to file a formal claim or 1 year to file a lawsuit against a city in the state of New York.
- The Plaintiff has 90 days to file a formal claim or 1 year to file a lawsuit against a county in the state of New York.
- The Plaintiff has 90 days to file a formal claim or a lawsuit against the state of New York.
Please contact Silver & Kelmachter, LLP to discuss your statute of limitations.