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Demolition Accidents

Decades of Experience Helping Injured Construction Workers in NYC

Before one building can go up, one must first come down. This is certainly true of construction in a congested city like New York. Real estate is scarce, and most large construction projects require demolishing existing structures to make way for new ones.

This is dangerous work. Sadly, hundreds of people are injured each year in demolition accidents, some seriously. At The O’Connor Law Firm, we have the experience you need to seek compensation following a demolition accident. Please contact our construction accident law firm today to schedule a meeting where you can learn more about your right to compensation.

Why Demolition Work is Dangerous

Demolition is any dismantling or destroying of a building or structure. Demolition can also involve dismantling only part of a structure.

Tearing something down is obviously dangerous. One small mistake, and innocent workers can suffer traumatic injuries. Some of the hazards involved with this work include:

  • Premature building collapse. Ideally, demolition is a controlled process, but if a key wall or support is weakened, then the entire structure can collapse prematurely. Unaware workers can be trapped in the rubble and suffer fractures, head injuries, and crush injuries.
  • Being struck by demolition equipment. Workers can be hit by wrecking balls, cranes, and other heavy machinery involved in demolition. The force created can cause permanent disabilities.
  • Falls. Some demolition work takes place high above the grounds. Workers can slip and fall from a great height, or the floor they are working on could collapse, dropping 15-20 feet.
  • Fires or explosions. All gas lines should be closed off before demolition begins, but sometimes bringing down one building will impact another, leading to an explosion at the site.
  • Electrocution. Demolition work often places workers near live overhead wires. Electrocution can cause burns and brain injuries; it can also cause a worker to fall.
  • Dust and chemicals. Inhalation of too many airborne particles can lead to respiratory problems, which we see in demolition work. Some older buildings still have asbestos, which can lead to asbestosis.

Many of these accidents cause immediate injury. Someone who falls 20 feet will immediately need an ambulance. But chemical inhalation can lead to long-term illnesses which are slow to develop. If you worked in demolition and now face health problems, speak with an attorney. There might be a link between what you inhaled years ago and your current illness.

Demolition Safety

Construction as a whole has a reputation for being a dangerous profession. Fortunately, the federal government has established rules and regulations to increase the profession’s safety. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, called OSHA, is the primary regulatory body at the federal level. The agency has created regulations for demolition work which, if followed, can protect workers.

For example, one OSHA regulation specifies that a “competent person” should perform an engineering survey before beginning demolition. They should analyze the possibility of an unplanned collapse and inspect the structure for weaknesses. Other OSHA requirements include the creation of a fire prevention and evacuation plan, along with providing workers with proper training.

New York state also has a detailed regulatory code governing construction and demolition. Unfortunately, some companies cut corners to keep down costs, so workers are left vulnerable when something goes wrong.

Demolition Work and Personal Protective Equipment

OSHA also requires that workers have necessary protective gear, which should reduce the risk of serious injury. The following is helpful gear to have:

  • Earplugs or earmuffs
  • Helmets
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Masks or respirators
  • Personal fall arrest system
  • Protective clothing

This equipment should be appropriate for the worker’s size and should also be in good working order. Sadly, some PPE is very old and fails, even if the worker uses it properly after adequate training. Other worn-out PPE can actually impede the workers’ safety, such as goggles which cloud up or are so scratched it is difficult to see.

Your Rights if You Are Injured in a Demolition Accident

New York has some of the toughest labor laws on the books. These laws allow injured workers to bring lawsuits when they are hurt while working in construction. In some states, injured construction workers are left with only workers’ compensation benefits, which provide skimpy benefits. But in New York, you and your attorney could pursue legal action under one of the following labor laws:

  • Section 200, which requires that owners and contractors protect workers from injury by creating a safe work environment.
  • Section 240, which allows workers to bring a lawsuit when they suffer a high fall or are struck by a falling object. It is commonly called the “Scaffold Law.”
  • Section 241, which makes owners and contractors legally liable for violations of New York’s Industrial Code, Rule 23 with respect to construction, demolition, and excavation.

We have used each of these labor laws to protect our clients. For example, as part of demolition, a brick or chunk of ceiling could have landed on your head. You could sue under Section 240. Similarly, if your contractor refused to follow safety regulations or provide personal protective equipment, you can also sue for an injury under Section 241(6). We can analyze which labor laws work to your benefit and use them as the basis for a lawsuit.

Compensation Following a Demolition Accident

Our legal team focuses on obtaining full compensation for our clients following a jobsite accident. If you are injured while working, workers’ compensation benefits can provide immediate medical care and partial wage replacement. If you are permanently disabled, you can also receive benefits.

However, to receive full compensation for lost wages, we always consider bringing a lawsuit under one of the labor laws listed above. If the facts warrant it, we can sue for pain and suffering and other damages which are disallowed in workers’ compensation cases. In this way, we strive to ensure our clients are made whole following an accident which is not their fault.

The O’Connor Law Firm Difference

We represent injured construction workers from the moment they contact us and can jump in to provide the kind of legal assistance which makes or breaks a case. For example, we can:

  • Analyze government reports which describe the accident
  • Review the credentials for engineers and demolitions companies, including any history of accidents
  • Document your injuries with medical evidence and photographs
  • Interview people who observed the accident and/or participated in the demolition to better understand what happened
  • File necessary workers’ compensation claims and provide requested information to speed up approval
  • Investigate whether a defective product contributed to the accident
  • Unearth the cause of the demolition accident, including whether the owners or contractors bear the blame for safety lapses
  • Negotiate with responsible parties for a fair settlement
  • File a lawsuit, if necessary, to vindicate your rights under New York labor laws

Perhaps the greatest benefit of hiring a lawyer is peace of mind. This is a very challenging time. Demolition accident injuries tend to be serious and cause considerable discomfort. Many people are suffering from multiple fractures, head injuries, and possibly amputation. The road to recovery is long, but we can ease the burden by handling all legal tasks for you.

Contact Our Demolition Accident Attorney Today

Many workers are afraid to bring a lawsuit against large city contractors and property owners. We will help guide you through the process and explain your rights.. New York’s labor laws require that owners and contractors put worker safety first, and they are accountable when they fail.

We go the extra mile for our clients to ensure they receive fair treatment following a construction accident. When no one else will advocate for you, we will. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our office.

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