Personal Injury: Construction Accidents

Work at construction sites is going on all over New York. Although site managers and property owners are supposed to follow safety rules, accidents happen regularly. Sometimes people are hurt seriously or even fatally. Anyone who is injured due to a construction accident may need to file a lawsuit to get compensation.
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Construction Sites Are Dangerous

In New York City alone, thousands of major construction projects — involving more than 190 million square feet — are currently under way across all five boroughs. (1) And the construction industry is very dangerous. In fact, the “fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average … for all industries.” (2)

Out of nearly 5,000 worker fatalities in private industry in 2018, there were“1,008 or 21.1% were in construction.” (3) In New York City that year, 73 construction workers died from work-related injuries. (4)

Workers and Passersby Get Hurt

If you or anyone you know has suffered an injury in a construction accident, contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Construction workers are not the only ones hurt in construction-related accidents. In early 2020, a worker was killed and a passerby was badly injured when a wall collapsed and “came crashing down on his legs.” (5)

In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, “Construction accidents regularly injure passersby.” At least once a month, “a passerby is injured near a New York City construction site.” The hazard can be anything from falling debris, construction tools, and glass to windblown fencing and collapsing sidewalk sheds. (6)

More than 275 construction accidents were reported to the NYC Buildings Department in the first eight months of 2020. Injuries arise from falls, falling and flying debris, malfunctioning or mishandling of equipment, and pinned or pinched body parts. (7)

Types of Construction Accidents

In New York City, coming into contact with objects and equipment resulted in 19 fatal work injuries in 2018. Falls, slips, and trips resulted in 17 fatalities. “These two major categories accounted for 49 percent of all workplace fatalities in New York City.” Exposure to harmful substances or environments resulted in 19% percent of total fatalities. (8)

The U.S. Department of Labor cites the top four causes of construction accidents as falls, struck-by, caught-in/between, and electrocutions. (9) “These ‘Fatal Four’ were responsible for more than half (58.6%) the construction worker deaths in 2018.” (10)

Accidents can also occur when working with concrete. People can experience eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation when exposed to cement dust. Exposure to wet concrete can result in chemical burns. Equipment accidents and overexertion can also lead to injuries. (11)

New York State’s Department of Labor provides comprehensive, rigorous, detailed instructions for Protection in Construction, Demolition, and Excavation Operations.

These topics indicate the many ways construction sites can lead to serious injuries and accidents if proper precautions are not taken:(12)

  • Hand tools.
  • Lumber and nail fastenings.
  • Power-driven machinery.
  • Electrical hazards.
  • Safety railing.
  • Sidewalk sheds and barricades.
  • Ladders and ladderways.
  • Structural runways, ramps, and platforms.
  • Roof work.
  • Lead fumes and dust from structural steel.
  • Safety notices, warning, and avoidance.
  • Protection for persons passing by construction, demolition, or excavation operations.

Protection for People Passing By

In particular, protection for persons passing by construction, demolition, or excavation operations states: (13)

  • “Every area, building or other structure where construction, demolition or excavation work is being performed shall be so constructed, shored, equipped, guarded, arranged, operated and conducted as not to endanger any person passing by on any sidewalk, street, highway or other public or private thoroughfare.”
  • “The means, methods, procedures, devices or structures used to provide such protection and safety shall include but not be limited to railings, fences, barricades, sheeting and shoring, sidewalk sheds, temporary walkways and temporary roadways. Such means, methods, procedures, devices or structures shall be selected to provide the required protection and safety in accordance with the particular hazard or hazards involved.”

Entire topics from New York State’s Department of Labor also address: (14)

  • Falls from heights, scaffolds, and ladders.
  • Falling debris.
  • Slips and falls.
  • Gas leak, fire, and explosion.
  • Forklift accidents.
  • Exposure to dangerous chemicals.

In New York, a “worker falling is the most common construction-related accident in New York City and experience alone does not make you invincible.” (15)

Injuries from Construction Accidents

Death can result from construction accidents. Falls, and being struck by an object, caught-in/between objects, or electrocuted caused more than half of construction-related worker deaths in the U.S. in 2018. (16)

Construction accident injuries can range from minor scrapes to more serious injuries, including: (17) (18) (19) (20)

  • Sprains, strains, and tears.
  • Fractures and broken bones.
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures.
  • Blows to the head that result in brain injury.
  • Heat-related and chemical burns.
  • Amputations.
  • Multiple traumatic injuries all at the same time.
  • Electrocution.
  • Illnesses caused by dangerous chemical exposure.

Legal Options

If you were injured at a construction site while working as an employee for a specific employer, you can file for workers’ compensation through your employer. If you are an employee, the company you are working for withholds income tax, Social Security, and Medicare from your wages. Your employer is responsible for following labor and employment laws. (21)

If you are an independent contractor and got injured while working at a construction site, you need to contact a lawyer specializing in personal injury law to receive compensation for your injuries. For independent contractors, “the company does not withhold taxes. Employment and labor laws also do not apply” to you. (22)

Negligence: Who Was Responsible?

Whether you were a passerby who was injured because of a construction-related accident or you were an independent contractor working at a construction site when you were injured, you need to consult with a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney about seeking compensation.

Your attorney helps you consider who was responsible for your accident? Was it the person or company that employed you? Or a third party? Maybe several people were negligent.

Your lawyer must prove that someone had a duty of care, breached their duty of care, your injuries were caused by the breach, and you were damaged by the breach. These are all legal terms that your attorney can help you understand.

Were you or someone you know injured in a construction accident? Call us now for a free consultation.

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Product Liability Claims

If you were hurt using a particular piece of equipment at a construction site, you may be able to file a product liability claim if that product was defective.

There are three types of product liability claims for defects: (23)

  • Design defects. Design defects mean the product was poorly designed and was inherently defective before it was ever manufactured.
  • Manufacturing defects. Manufacturing defects take place during construction or production of the product.
  • Defects in marketing. Defects in marketing might refer to improper instructions about how to use or assemble the product. Defects might also refer to failure to warn people about potential dangers of using the product.

Common Potentially Defective Construction Site Products

Common potentially defective construction site products include: (24)

  • Power tools.
  • Ladders.
  • Vehicles.
  • Scaffolding.
  • Chemicals.
  • Steel, lumber, roofing materials, and nail fastenings.

How W&L Can Help

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed due to a construction-related accident, you should examine your legal options.

Weitz & Luxenberg is a law firm recognized nationwide for its efforts in helping thousands of clients receive appropriate compensation for significant personal injuries due to the negligence of others. Not only are we one of the most experienced and knowledgeable personal injury law firms in the country, we are New York’s largest personal injury litigation firm in the region.

Our attorneys are prepared to review your case and take legal action that best suits your specific circumstances. We have a solid winning track record.

Here are just a couple examples:

  • Weitz & Luxenberg achieved a $2.96 million verdict for our client whose leg was severely injured by a power-operated vehicle at a garbage sorting facility.
  • W&L attorneys secured close to $1 million dollars for our client, injured when a suitcase fell from an overhead bin on an airplane. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, leading to permanent brain damage.

  1. NYC Active Major Construction. (2020, October 16). NYC Active Major Construction. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/html/nyc-active-major-construction.html
  2. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Worker Safety Series: Construction. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3252/3252.html
  3. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Commonly Used Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, February 6). New York–New Jersey Information Office. Fatal Occupational Injuries in New York City – 2018. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/regions/new-york-new-jersey/news-release/fatalworkinjuries_newyorkcity.htm
  5. Santia, M. (2020, February 21). 1 Dead, 1 Badly Hurt in NYC Construction Accident. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/1-dead-1-injured-in-queens-construction-site-accident-fdny/2296057/
  6. Barbanel, J. (2015, April 22). Around New York Building Sites, a Little-Known Threat. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-city-pedestrians-face-a-threat-from-above-1429696801
  7. NYC Buildings. (n.d.). Construction Related Accident Reports. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/about/construction-related-accident-reports.page
  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, February 6). New York–New Jersey Information Office Fatal Occupational Injuries in New York City – 2018. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/regions/new-york-new-jersey/news-release/fatalworkinjuries_newyorkcity.htm
  9. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Top Four Construction Hazards. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3216-6N-06-english-06-27-2007.html
  10. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Commonly Used Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats
  11. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.) Concrete Manufacturing. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/concrete_manufacturing.html
  12. New York State Department of Labor. (n.d.). Part 23. Protection in Construction, Demolition, and Excavation Operations. Retrieved from https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/sh23.shtm
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. NYC Buildings. (n.d.). Safety. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/safety/safety.page
  16. United States Department of Labor. (n.d). Commonly Used Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats
  17. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, September 10). Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities. Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Data. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/iif/soii-data.htm/#summary
  18. UCLA Health. (n.d.). Cerebral Contusion and Intracerebral Hematoma. Retrieved from https://www.uclahealth.org/neurosurgery/cerebral-contusion-intracerebral-hematoma
  19. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Top Four Construction Hazards. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3216-6N-06-english-06-27-2007.html
  20. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.) Concrete Manufacturing. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/concrete_manufacturing.html
  21. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Office of Child Support Enforcement. (2018, October 23). Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/resource/the-difference-between-an-independent-contractor-and-an-employee
  22. Ibid.
  23. Cornell Law School. (n.d). Products Liability. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/products_liability
  24. New York State Department of Labor. (n.d). Part 23. Protection in Construction, Demolition, and Excavation Operations. Retrieved from https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/sh23.shtm

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