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What You Need to Know About NYC Construction Accidents

8.18.2021 Construction Accidents

If you are injured in a work-related construction accident in New York, you are entitled to workers compensation benefits regardless of fault.  In fact, in most instances, workers compensation benefits are your sole remedy against your employer.  These benefits entitle a worker to receive medical treatment and lost wage benefits that equals 2/3 of your average weekly wage multiplied by your percentage of disability.  These benefits are subject to a weekly maximum.  You may also be entitled to other cash benefits in the event you suffer a permanent disability and are unable to return to work or cannot perform to the same level as you did prior to your accident, resulting in reduced earnings. 

There are certain time limitations and other requirements that must be met in order to receive benefits.  It is important that you contact a construction accident attorney who understands these rules.  At The O’Connor Law Firm, we provide answers to your questions about workers compensation benefits and whether you are also entitled to bring a claim for personal injuries against the responsible party.

What should I do immediately after a construction accident in New York City or Staten Island?

While some construction accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, it is important to remember that even if your accident does not result in serious injuries or you don’t think you are seriously injured, you need to make sure you do a number of things after a construction accident. 

  1. Make sure that you call for an ambulance or have someone call for an ambulance. 
  2. Try to have someone you trust take photos of the accident scene, including the equipment that may have been involved in your accident – a ladder, scaffold, hoist or other equipment or any objects that may have fallen.  The truth is that as soon as the worker is off the site, the owner and general contractor’s representatives, including lawyers and investigators, are immediately called to the site to start taking photos and getting witness statements.  Some investigators will even try to re-create (or stage) the accident scene to take photos of the way they want it to look.  They will even pick up ladders that had fallen and put them back in place before taking photographs. 
  3. Don’t sign your name to any accident reports until after you have been examined by a doctor or hospital.  Sometimes, you will be taken into a trailer on site to sign an accident report even before you’re taken to a doctor and asked questions about the accident and may even be asked to sign a statement written by someone else. I don’t think it is wise to sign any forms before getting yourself looked at by a medical professional.  After an accident you may not be thinking clearly, your adrenaline may be high, masking your pain and clouding your perceptions.  You could also be suffering a concussion.  No one on site is looking out for your well-being if they are asking you to sign your name to an accident report before getting medical care. 
  4. Don’t speak with private investigators who ask you for a statement about your accident.  Workers are often contacted shortly after an accident by a private investigator on behalf of the owner, developer or general contractor and want to get a statement from you about how the accident happened.  These investigators are looking out for the insurance company as well as the owner and contractor, and are solely focused on blaming you for your injuries.  I suggest you speak to an attorney who has experience in construction accident cases first before giving any statements whether written or verbal.
  5. Call an experienced construction accident lawyer and ask as many questions as you wish to better understand your rights and your options.

Am I entitled to receive workers compensation benefits and also seek compensation through a lawsuit for personal injuries from my construction site accident?

While you cannot sue your employer for work-related injuries absent rare circumstances, New York law permits you to bring what is called a “third-party claim” against the responsible party who caused your injuries.  For instance, a worker who is employed by an electrical contractor on a construction site may be injured by falling from a ladder.  Even if the ladder was provided to the employee by his employer, New York Labor Law §240(1) puts the responsibility of the worker’s accident on the owner and general contractor if it is proven that the ladder was broken or was not the appropriate device for the job and that violation of the statute was a cause of the accident. 

Likewise, an ironworker who is walking through a passageway on the jobsite and is caused to slip and fall on pipes that had been dropped on the ground by a plumbing contractor would be entitled to collect workers compensation benefits from his employer and also bring a separate “third-party claim” against the plumbing contractor for negligence, as well as the owner and general contractor for possible violation of Labor Law §241(6). 

Due to the complex nature of construction accident claims, it is important to find an experienced and qualified attorney who handles only accident cases and one who understands the complexities of the Labor Law applicable to your case.

What happens at an initial consultation or free case review with a construction injury lawyer?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, taking legal action may be necessary.  Before taking action, however, it may be best to seek a free case evaluation with an experienced and qualified injury attorney.  The consultation is free, will provide you with important information about your rights and there is no obligation. 

During a free case review a lawyer will ask you about the facts of your accident.  It is important to provide as much information as possible.  You should bring any paperwork, documents or other information relevant to your claim, including any accident reports, incident reports, medical bills and medical records, insurance information and any photos of your injuries or of the accident scene. 

It is important that you be upfront with your lawyer about any past injuries to the same body parts that were injured in the accident.  In order to properly assess a case, an attorney needs as much information as possible.  It is important to be truthful and not hide any information you feel may hurt your case.  Remember that any consultation is confidential and will stay between you and the attorney.  Of course, you should also ask the attorney any questions you may have about his experience in cases similar to yours, in order to make the best decision possible for you and your family.