THE NEW YORK LABOR LAW PROTECTS WORKERS INJURED IN CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS
The New York Labor Law has three major provisions which protect workers injured on a construction site: 200, 240 and 241. Labor Law 200 codifies the common law duty of reasonable care with respect to owners and general contractors – meaning that an owner or general contractor can be negligent and liable for injuries caused by dangerous issues on the worksite of which it knew or should have known. Labor Law 240, commonly known as the “Scaffold Law”, applies to falls and falling objects and imposes strict liability for injuries resulting from a lack of safety gear or precautions (meaning an owner or general contractor is on the hook even if they did not do anything wrong). Labor Law 241 applies to the overall safety of the worksite and requires a violation of a specific provision of the Industrial Code.
The attorneys at D'Orazio Peterson are in a unique position to represent plaintiffs in these types of cases because both Scott and Giovanna defended these cases at earlier points in their careers. This experience makes us uniquely qualified to assess a Labor Law case and to anticipate and deal with potential defenses.
Saratoga Springs and Albany Construction Site Accident Attorneys
Construction sites are dangerous places. Particularly for those who work on them. The potential for serious injury and death is always present, especially when the site involves elevated work areas, heavy equipment and other high-risk operations. Construction site accidents can leave workers, or passers-by, severely injury or worse, if proper safety precautions are not taken.
Construction Sites Accidents and Liability
When an individual is injured on a construction site, whether they are a construction worker, site visitor, or passerby, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries if they were caused by the failure of a site owner or contractor to take reasonable care to ensure that the site was safe. Unfortunately, injuries from construction site accidents are rarely minor, which makes knowing your rights following a construction site accident even more important.
Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents
Accidents on construction sites can occur for any number of reasons, many of which are entirely unpredictable. Unfortunately, however some are quite predictable yet still occur. When a worker or bystander is injured because of a predictable accident, it is very likely that someone was negligent or at fault. Some common causes of construction site accidents include:
- Improper safety equipment. Proper and working safety equipment is a critical component of a safe construction site. From ladders, scaffolds, safety harnesses, to helmets, ensuring that appropriate safety equipment is available to workers or site visitors is crucial. Unfortunately, the equipment provided on some job sites is old, outdated or damaged, and workers or site visitors are often injured when trying to use equipment that is either not appropriate for the work, or is simply no longer in working order.
- Lack of safety equipment. The New York State Labor Law has very strict requirements regarding safety equipment on construction sites. And where a site owner, general contractor or other contractor with authority over the work has failed to provide appropriate safety equipment, they could be facing problems.
Construction workers and site visitors must be provided with ladders, harnesses, scaffolds and helmets, among many other things. And the failure of the site owner, general contractor or other contractor with control over the site to provide this equipment to a worker can leave them liable for any damages that the worker sustains if an accident occurs.
One of the more common worksite injuries occurs when a worker does not have an appropriate harness or safety device to secure them while working on a ladder. Falling from a ladder from several feet off the ground can and does cause severe injuries. The regulations require that safety devices be provided to these workers, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
- Faulty scaffolding. When a construction worker is working from a height they are generally required to have been provided with a safety device, often in the form of scaffolding. This must be in good working order, and may also require harnesses or other equipment to ensure that the worker does not fall. Injuries often occur when faulty scaffolding is used, or is improperly secured resulting in the worker falling from a height. New York Labor Law sections 240 and 241 require that proper safety devices be used on construction sites, and the violation of these sections can lead to liability for the project owner, general contractor, or other contractor with control over the project.
- Unsecured equipment. Equipment such as scaffolding, ladders, or other safety devices must be secured, and when they are not workers can fall or otherwise sustain serious injuries including death. Other unsecured equipment can also cause severe accidents and injuries, including cranes, heavy equipment or even site tools that can fall or cause harm.
- Falling objects. Construction sites are havens for accidents and injuries on the ground, including being struck by a falling object. Objects such as bricks, blocks, saws and other equipment must be properly secured and stored, and when they are not a worker or passerby can be struck by an object that falls from a height. As with many other construction site injuries, injuries from falling objects are often severe.
- Ground hazards. In addition to the risk of potentially being struck by a falling object, workers and visitors to construction sites face the risk of ground hazards as well. These can include large, unmanned or unidentified holes in the ground, which are often present on construction sites and can cause severe injuries. Loose equipment, tools or project debris can also cause havoc as tripping hazards, and can once again lead to severe injuries.
The above list is not comprehensive, as there are countless dangers present on construction sites. The hazards identified above, however, tend to be both the most frequent cause of severe injuries, as well as the most easily avoidable.
Injuries Common to Construction Accidents
Unfortunately, injuries at construction sites tend to be severe. When a construction worker or visitor falls from a height, is struck by a falling object, or falls into a hole they are often very seriously hurt. Some injuries that are common to construction site accidents include:
- Serious physical injuries: these include broken bones (including legs, feet, heels, arms and back, which are the most common). Often these injuries require extensive and multiple surgeries, resulting in a prolonged inability to work.
- Traumatic injuries: which include head injuries. Often these injuries threaten the life of the injured worker or visitor, and in many cases the scope of the injury does not fully present itself until time has passed after the accident.
- Permanent injuries: which can include permanent disabilities, inability to walk or quadriplegia, among others.
- Death: because of the severe nature of construction site injuries, workers are occasionally killed because of the accident.
Any of the above injuries, if cause because of poor safety precautions, may warrant commencement of a lawsuit against the site owner, general contractor, or others.
Elements of Damages in Construction Accidents
If an injured person, or the estate of a deceased, elects to file a lawsuit because of the injuries the claim would be considered a tort or personal injury claim, or a claim for wrongful death. The Plaintiff – the injured person or Administrator of the Estate – may be entitled to recover from the Defendant – the site owner, general contractor, or others – damages for the injuries that the Plaintiff has or did suffer. These include:
- Medical Costs: Construction site accident injuries can be particularly severe, and often entail hospital stays or repeat doctor's visits, which can lead to a mountain of medical bills.
- Funeral Costs: When a person loses their life in a construction site accident, their family may file a wrongful death suit, and claim the funeral costs as damages.
- Loss of Income: If a person loses their life in a construction accident and their family depended on them for support, the family may file loss of income damages as part of their wrongful death claim. Also, if a person is disabled and unable to work because of an accident, they can seek damages for the loss of income that they will suffer because of the inability to work. This often involves engaging the services of an expert economist, who will provide proof of the anticipated lost earnings because of the accident.
- Non-economic Damages: Non-economic damages are those that cannot typically be measured in terms of finance, and may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and possibly certain demands of the defendant to take future preventive actions.
- Punitive Damages: In cases of extreme or egregious wrongdoing, a person may make the demand for punitive damages, which are meant to serve as a sort of financial punishment, especially to corporations.
Contact a Saratoga Springs Construction Accident Attorney
If you or a family member have been injured in a construction accident in New York, contact D'Orazio Peterson today.