THE SCAFFOLD LAW
There is another exception primarily intended for Construction Accidents. In New York, this is referred to as The Scaffold Law(NYS Labor Law sections 240/241), which allows workers injured by elevated falls to hold general contractors and property owners “absolutely liable” for their injuries, regardless of the employee’s own negligence or mistake, no matter how obvious or serious. The intention of the law is an incentive for employers to make workplaces are safer as possible, but business interests protest the cost of these safety precautions as an impediment to business growth.
YOU CAN SUE A “THIRD PARTY”
When you have an accident at work you should also consult a Personal Injury Attorney to investigate whether, in addition to Workers Compensation Benefits, it is possible to sue a “third party” whose negligence was at least in part responsible for your injuries. In some cases, it’s obvious, such as a taxi driver hit in the rear by another vehicle. Clearly, the driver can sue the driver that caused the traffic accident. If a delivery person drops a box on you, causing you to fall, you can sue HIS employer for his negligence. Sometimes it’s not clear at first whether a third party is responsible. For example, when a machinist is injured it may be due to poor maintenance of the machine by an outside contractor who could be sued for negligence. That’s why you should seek a consultation with a workers compensation attorney and a personal injury attorney to know all your rights.
WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWYER
CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT LAWSUITS – BEYOND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY
If you are wondering, “Is Workers Compensation the exclusive remedy for constructions accidents,?” the answer is that sometimes there are additional ways to collect compensation.
EXCEPTIONS TO WORKERS COMPENSATION
- Grave Injuries – Applies to catastrophic injuries sustained in an accident. This provision has been interpreted very narrowly by the New York Courts, denying a lawsuit to a worker that lost part of all the fingers of one hand, ruling that it must be the “entire finger,” to qualify as an exception to exclusive remedy.
- permanent and total loss of use or amputation of an arm, leg, hand or foot;
- loss of multiple fingers;
- loss of multiple toes;
- paraplegia or quadriplegia;
- total and permanent blindness;
- total and permanent deafness;
- loss of nose;
- loss of ear;
- permanent and severe facial disfigurement;
- loss of an index finger; or
- an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in permanent total disability.
- Intentional Conduct – The employer does something to intentionally harm the worker. The New York courts have interpreted this exception narrowly as well. The employer must have actually wanted the worker to be hurt and did something to hurt this particular worker. No degree of recklessness would suffice. There are provisions under the Labor Law that would apply to unsafe conditions.
- The Scaffold Law, limited to construction workers, allows lawsuits against employers when injured was caused by a defect in a safety device, “at an elevation.” This doesn’t mean that you need to be 1,000 feet up in the air. Courts have upheld the use of a ladder for meeting the requirement of “at an elevation,” but it must be a problem with the ladder that caused the fall. It’s not enough just to be high up, the fall must be “caused by gravity.” The right to sue was denied to a worker who hurt is back to due to the design of a harness used at the top of a skyscraper, because the injury was not from falling. You could sue if you were hit by debris caused by malfunctioning devices “at an elevation, but not because your co-workers dropped their water bottle on you.
- Labor law will also allow some suits based on an unsafe work site
- If the injury was caused, at least in part, by the acts or omissions of somebody not employed by the company, such a delivery person, a lawsuit can commence against that person and/or entity.
- If the injury was caused, at least in part, by a defect in a product, a product liability claim would be allowable.
I doubt you’re still wondering, “Is Worker’s Compensation the Exclusive Remedy for Construction Accidents,” but you might have some follow-up questions. Feel free to give us a call at 718-261-8114.
Despite New York’s passage of more stringent construction worker safety laws, lack of employer compliance still leads to an alarming amount of avoidable accidents. The NYC Department of Buildings reports that last August, a worker was seriously injured when a piece of plywood was used to conceal a hole, instead of repairing it. This happened 56 floors above the ground, and the worker is lucky to be alive. Sadly, this is happening all the time as employers fail to implement safety protocols. Construction safety in New York City can only be improved with both laws and enforcement.
In October, 2017 Local Law 196 was passed, but the City is not doing an adequate job with enforcement. The most important aspect of the new law was training, but the Department of Buildings keeps delaying the date requiring full compliance. This destroys the entire intent of the bill as people are still dying because they do not know how to put on a harness correctly!
The Mayor’s “management report” states that there are two construction accidents a day in New York City – 744 a year! This includes both small injuries and fatalities such as the worker that was killed in a building collapse accident last September. The total number of injuries keeps increasing steadily. There were only 212 injuries reported for the entire year just five years ago.
This increase is being attributed to fraud and inadequate training. Another ploy is the extensive use of “fake OSHA certifications,” that was reported on by the Daily News, NBC, and other media. The 10-hour training class costs more than $100 and a day without working is a big hit from a worker, and with fake certificates widely available, the temptation is huge. Another ruse is “online training,” as it is widely known that office workers often take the training for an entire crew.
Hopefully, the Mayor will improve construction safety in New York City with more enforcement to protect workers.
Construction Accidents are becoming more frequent as laws and regulations protecting workers are being abolished so that real estate developers can put more money in their pockets. Sadly, this is causing an increase in the rate of accidents, with serious injuries and fatalities increasing. If you have been the victim of a construction accident, here are the reasons to hire a construction accident attorney:
- Get Workers Compensation Benefits Quickly – an experienced construction accident attorney will know how to process your claim quickly so money is coming into your family as soon as possible.
- Investigation of All Exceptions to Workers Compensation that May Allow You to Sue Your Employer – New York State does not allow employees to sue their employers, but there are many exceptions that often apply to construction accidents such as “grave injuries,” falling from a height and failure to employ certain safety standards.
- Investigate Applicable Product Liability Claims – If the accident was caused, even partially, by malfunctioning equipment, the manufacturer of the equipment can be held liable.
- Investigate Third-Parties – There are often employees of other companies working on a site that may have contributed to the accident.
- Public Policy – Trump era deregulation is abolishing laws and regulations that protect worker safety, causing serious injuries and fatalities among construction workers to skyrocket. Making a claim will hold employers accountable, and could reduce future accidents.
- Peace of Mind – Knowing that you have top lawyers at your side will allow you to focus on your recovery/
- Money Can’t Buy Happiness, but it Can Help – Collecting a substantial amount of money will help you to rebuild your life financially after the accident.
CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
If you have been seriously injured while working at a construction site, the laws are complicated. You are entitled to Workers Compensation, but you may also meet an exception to the law that bars lawsuits by employees against employers and you may also have a claim against a third party. This is why you would benefit from hiring a Construction Accident Attorney to help you obtain compensation.
There are many claims to file for benefits, and possibly lawsuits to file against several entities. Once a settlement is proposed you will also benefit from the advice of an experienced Construction Accident Attorney that knows how much your case is worth. You should also know that a Construction Accident Attorney usually works on a contingency fee, so you don’t have to pay any money up front. You certainly have nothing to lose by having a free consultation.