The New York construction industry is a booming trade that offers plenty of job opportunities. However, it’s also an industry that poses many dangers.
Occupational safety should always be highly prioritized, and construction companies should always aim to protect workers on the construction site. Unfortunately, construction accidents still happen even when you follow every single protocol, and more so if you don’t.
According to the NYC Department of Buildings, the state recorded 959 construction-related accidents in 2019, and those reports included no fewer than 595 construction site injuries and 12 fatal construction accidents.
In 2020, the numbers decreased, but there was still a staggering count of 796 construction accidents with 502 injured workers and 8 killed laborers on the job site.
Accidents on the construction site happen more often than you might think, and they can have devastating consequences. This article will discuss the top causes of a construction accident and the next steps you should take after one occurs.
Top-Rated Representation From Our New York Construction Accident Lawyer
Suppose you or a family member has been involved in a construction accident in New York. In this case, you’ll want to hire an experienced construction accident lawyer who knows how to get the maximum workers’ compensation for your injuries.
At The Pagan Law Firm, we have over 25 years of experience handling construction accident cases. We pride ourselves on our lineup of dedicated New York construction lawyers, ensuring injured construction workers recover the maximum compensation they are entitled to have.
Our firm has the experience and resources necessary to handle even the most complex construction accident case.
Construction Accident Statistics
Working in the construction industry is one of the most dangerous occupations in New York City.
A Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics study indicates that the construction industry accounts for 27 percent of work-related injuries and fatalities, even though construction employees only make up around 5 percent of the city’s total workforce.
In 2021, NYC Buildings reported that construction accident cases in the city have declined with a 10% drop compared to 2020.
Even with a significant decline over the years, industry innovations, and the safety protocol put in place to protect every construction worker, construction accidents are still prevalent.
As of May 2022, NYC Buildings documented 192 construction accident injuries and 4 fatal construction accidents.
New York State Laws Concerning Construction Accidents
The New York State Legislature has enacted several laws to help protect construction workers and their families in the event of an accident.
These laws are designed to ensure that workers are given fair financial compensation for their injuries and that their families are not left struggling financially after a tragic event.
Some of the most essential New York labor laws concerning construction accidents include:
New York Labor Law 240 (The Scaffolding Law)
New York Labor Law 240 is also known as the “Scaffolding Law” because it protects workers working at heights. This law requires that scaffolding and other safety devices like ladders, nets, hoists, and pulleys be used to protect every construction worker from falling.
This law provides that if a worker is injured while working at heights, the company will be held liable for those injuries.
New York Labor Law 241
New York Labor Law 241 is also known as the “Industrial Code” because it sets forth specific rules and regulations that employers must follow to ensure workers’ safety in construction, demolition, and excavation operations.
One section of the Industrial Code, known as “Section 241-6“, requires that all construction sites have a written safety plan. The New York Department of Buildings must approve this safety plan, and sites must follow it at all times.
New York Labor Law 200
New York Labor Law 200 is also known as the “General Duty Clause” because it requires that all employers provide their employees with reasonable and adequate protection.
This law applies to all employers, regardless of whether they’re in the construction industry. The General Duty Clause requires that employers take reasonable steps to protect their workers from hazards, including falling objects, collapsing scaffolding, and electrical shocks.
If an employer fails to provide a safe work environment and a worker is injured, the employer can be held liable for those injuries.
Top 4 Causes of Fatal Construction Accidents
Even though the number of construction accidents has declined over the years, they are still a genuine hazard for workers in the industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined the top 4 leading causes of construction accidents and fatalities in the country. These causes, dubbed the “Fatal Four” by OSHA, are as follows:
Falls on the construction site are responsible for most of the fatalities, comprising around 37% of all construction worker deaths in 2019. Worker falls can occur from ladders, scaffolds, roofs, and other heights, and they can also occur when workers slip and fall on a wet or icy surface.
To prevent falls, OSHA recommends that all workers wear proper safety gear, such as harnesses and lifelines, to prevent worker falls when working at heights. In addition, OSHA advises employers to provide workers with adequate training on how to work at heights safely.
Struck by Objects
Being struck by an object is the second leading cause of construction fatalities, accounting for around 10% of all deaths in 2019.
Objects can sway or fall from heights and strike workers below, or they can be propelled by machinery and hit nearby workers. Falling objects are a particular hazard for workers working beneath elevated areas, such as on scaffolds or ladders.
To avoid being struck by an object, OSHA suggests that workers wear hard hats and other protective gear when working in areas where objects could fall. In addition, employers should make sure that all workers are aware of the potential hazards and know how to stay safe.
Electrocutions are the third leading cause of construction worker fatalities, accounting for around 8% of all deaths in 2019.
Most electrocutions occur when workers come into contact with power lines or exposed electrical wiring. They can also occur when workers operate machinery that is not grounded correctly.
To prevent electrocution, OSHA recommends that workers receive training on working safely with electricity. In addition, employers should make sure that all electrical equipment is properly grounded and that power lines are marked.
Caught In or Between Objects
The final leading cause of construction worker fatalities is being caught-in or between objects, accounting for around 2% of all deaths in 2019.
This can occur when workers are caught between two pieces of equipment, when they are caught between the walls of a trench or excavation, or when they are crushed by falling debris.
OSHA encourages workers to wear proper safety gear, such as gloves and eye protection, to prevent being caught in or between objects.
In addition, employers should make sure that all equipment is adequately secured and that trenches and excavations are properly shored to avoid collapse.
While the Fatal Four causes of construction accidents are responsible for the majority of worker fatalities, there are many other potential hazards that workers face daily. Some of these include:
- Unsafe work equipment
- Lack of Safety Measures
- Ladder accidents
- Crane accidents
- Scaffolding collapse
- Building collapse
- Fires and explosions
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances
Employers should ensure that all workers are properly trained on how to safely perform their duties and have the proper safety gear to protect them from potential dangers.
Different Injuries Suffered by Construction Workers
There are many different types of injuries that construction workers can suffer from on the job site. Some of these include:
Traumatic Brain or Head Injuries
Some of the most common injuries that construction workers suffer are head injuries, ranging from minor concussions to more serious traumatic brain injuries.
All workers must wear hard hats to prevent head injuries when working in areas where an object could strike them.
Spinal Cord Damage or Paralysis
Construction workers are also at risk of suffering spinal injuries. These can range from minor sprains and strains to more serious injuries, such as fractures and disc herniations.
All workers must wear proper safety gear, such as back supports and neck bracing, to avoid spinal injuries. In addition, employers should make sure that all workers are properly trained on how to lift and carry objects safely.
Fractures or Broken Bones
Fractures and broken bones are also common injuries among construction workers. These can be caused by falls, being struck by an object, or being caught between two pieces of equipment.
Fractures and broken bones can be prevented when all workers wear proper safety gear, such as gloves and protective clothing. In addition, employers should make sure that all workers are properly trained on how to perform their duties safely.
Construction workers are also in danger of suffering eye injuries. These can range from minor irritation to serious injuries, such as corneal abrasions and permanent vision loss.
All workers must wear proper safety gear, such as safety glasses or goggles, to prevent eye injuries. In addition, employers should make sure that all workers are properly trained on how to safely work with chemicals and other substances that could cause eye irritation.
Crushing injuries are also common among construction workers. These can be caused by being caught between two pieces of equipment or struck by falling debris. In severe cases, crushing injuries lead to amputation.
Deep Cut or Lacerations
Construction workers are also prone to suffering deep cuts or lacerations. These can be caused by being struck by an object, falling onto sharp debris, or coming into contact with hazardous chemicals or substances.
To avoid deep cuts or lacerations, all workers must wear proper safety gear, such as gloves and protective clothing.
Construction workers are also at risk of suffering burns on the job site. These can be caused by chemical exposure, electrical hazards, or fires and explosions.
All workers must wear proper safety gear, such as gloves, safety goggles, and protective clothing to avoid burns and other injuries.
Construction workers are susceptible to various injuries on the construction site. Aside from employers giving proper training and safety gear to their employees, effective safety measures should also be in place to minimize the risks posed by construction site hazards.
Liability in a Construction Workplace Accident
When an employee is injured on the job, the employer may be liable for the accident. This is because employers have a duty to provide their employees with a safe workplace. If an employer fails to do so, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result.
It is important to note that the contractor must prove the fault to file a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, the injured employee must show that the employer was negligent in providing reasonable and adequate protection to recover damages.
In New York, the contractor’s employer is responsible for keeping the worksite safe. This includes ensuring that there are no hazardous conditions and that all safety equipment is in working order. The site manager must address any potential danger.
The contractor’s employer must also provide their employees with proper training to perform their duties safely. If the contractor’s employer fails to do so, they may find themselves in a construction accident case.
The Other Contractor
Construction sites often have more than one contractor working on them. In these cases, each contractor is responsible for their safety and the safety of their employees.
This includes ensuring that there are no hazardous conditions and that all safety equipment is in working order. Otherwise, the other contractor working on the site may also be held liable for an accident.
Property owners are also responsible for the safety of those on the site. Moreover, they also need to ensure the property is safe for construction work and all permits have been obtained.
In the event of a construction site accident caused by the property owner, they may face a construction accident lawsuit.
Even the most skilled construction worker, backed by years of experience, can be injured by faulty tools or equipment.
If the equipment was defective and caused construction injuries, construction accident lawsuits may be filed against the company that manufactured, distributed, or sold the device.
Recoverable Damages in Construction Site Accidents
In New York, workers who are injured on the job may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. This is a no-fault system, which means it does not matter who was at fault for the accident. If the employee was injured while performing their job duties, they might be eligible for benefits.
These benefits can include medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits. In some cases, death benefits may also be available to the family of a construction worker killed on the job.
Economic damages are those that have a specific monetary value attached to them. To recover economic damages, injured workers must prove that they incurred these costs due to the accident. These include:
- Medical expenses, including hospitalization and surgery
- Medical equipment
- Medical devices like wheelchairs and prosthetics
- Rehabilitation and therapy
- Nursing care
- Loss of stream of income
- Future lost earnings
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are personal and subjective, making them more challenging to quantify — things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
To recover non-economic damages, the injured worker must prove that the accident caused them to experience these losses. These include:
- Chronic pain and suffering
- Mental distress and emotional distress
- PTSD and depression
- Loss of standard quality of life
- Loss of consortium
In some cases, the New York court system may also award punitive damages. These are to punish the wrongdoer and deter them from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly egregious.
What Are the Damages Included in Workers Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to an employee injured at the worksite or who becomes ill due to their job. These benefits aim to help injured construction workers recover from their injuries and return to work. These include:
- Medical expenses: Medical bills, medications, hospital and doctor visits, and physical and occupational therapy.
- Temporary partial disability benefits: Paid when an employee cannot return to their previous job but can still work with some restrictions. The worker can be paid two-thirds of what they made before minus what they can make after the construction accident.
- Temporary total disability benefits: Given to employees who cannot work at all while recovering from their injuries. Workers can earn two-thirds of their average weekly salary before the injury until they are healed and able to return to work.
- Partial permanent disability benefits: Given to employees who have fully healed from their injuries, but a part of their body is still permanently damaged or disabled. For example, if an employee loses the use of their arm or limbs, they may be eligible for these benefits. Workers can earn two-thirds of their average weekly salary before the injury.
- Total permanent disability benefits: Paid when an employee is permanently and totally disabled and cannot work in any capacity. Workers can receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly earnings until the injury has completely healed.
Death benefits are available to the surviving spouse and dependents of a construction worker who was killed on the job. These benefits can include funeral expenses, lost earnings, and medical bills.
Eligibility for Workers Compensation Benefits
All construction workers injured can claim workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. To receive these benefits, injured workers must file a claim with their employer within 30 days of the accident.
You have the right to appeal the decision if your claim is denied. You will need to file a notice of appeal within two years of the date of the accident. The appeals process can be complex, so it is crucial to seek the help of NYC construction accident attorneys.
If you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. To do this, you will need to prove that the at-fault party was negligent in their actions and that this negligence led to your injuries.
Should you decide to pursue a lawsuit, you have until three years to consult with construction accident lawyers and file a construction accident case. In cases of wrongful death, the time limit for the families of the deceased construction worker to file a lawsuit is two years from the date of death.
Why Should You Choose the Pagan Law Firm For Your Construction Injury Case?
Suppose you have been injured in a construction accident and are unsure of your rights or what benefits you may be entitled to. In this case, it’s essential to speak with experienced New York construction accident lawyers who can help you understand your options and protect your rights.
If you’re confused about whether to file for workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit, the construction accident lawyers at Pagan Law Firm can help you. We’ll help you understand your best options and help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
We understand that construction accidents can have a devastating effect on injured workers and their families. We work tirelessly to get our clients the compensation they need to cover their medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Contact a New York Construction Accident Attorney Now
No matter how your accident happened, if you were injured while working on a construction site, we can help you. Call us today at (219) 682-0517 or complete our online contact form to book your free consultation with our top-notch roster of lawyers.