If you or a loved one has recently suffered an injury while on the job at a construction site, you may be researching your options regarding construction accident settlements. You may be entitled to compensation.
Recent reports indicate that the lull in construction that occurred during the pandemic is now well over. In Construction Dive, it was reported that construction spending on projects across New York City would be estimated to reach $83 billion in 2023. That is a 10% increase in construction spending, as compared with pre-pandemic levels.
This heightened level of activity also brings with it an increased number of construction site accident. If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident, you need to know your rights for pursuing the compensation you or your loved one deserve.
The Reality of Construction Accidents in New York
A recent construction safety report, released in April 2023, showed that construction site injuries were on the rise for the second year in a row. Specifically, the report indicated that construction worker injuries had increased in 2022 by 9.7% for a total of 554 injuries and 11 fatalities. The same report also postulates that the chief driving factor behind these injuries continue to be falls from elevated heights.
This statistic is staggering given the requirements put in place by OSHA and New York State law upon general contractors and property owners to provide adequate safety equipment for construction workers. Construction workers are exposed to elevated height risks while performing their work. This equipment includes scaffolding, safety lines, safety nets, man-lifts, and adequate ladders appropriate for the work to be performed.
The report states:
“Many of the injuries that were tracked by the Department in 2022 were due to employers disregarding these important regulations.”
Several high-profile cases involving construction accidents have resulted in significant construction accident settlements and verdicts, demonstrating the importance of exploring your rights to compensation in the event of you or a loved one being injured on the job.
Understanding Construction Accident Settlements
In New York, when a construction worker is injured in a construction accident, they have two primary options for pursuing compensation. The first is to file a Worker’s Compensation claim with their employer. The second is to file a third-party claim against an unrelated third party that had a duty under the law to ensure construction site safety and breached that duty.
Even if you or a loved one has already filed a worker’s compensation claim, you can still pursue third-party claims for construction accident settlements. You cannot, however, pursue a lawsuit against your own employer who has provided you with Worker’s Compensation benefits.
Legally, these claims tend to fall under key sections of the New York Labor Law, including Sections 200, 240, and/or 241(6). It is imperative that the law firm you choose to represent you in these third-party lawsuits be extremely familiar with these regulations.
Section 200 of the Labor Law is a codification of common law negligence, and requires owners and contractors to ensure construction site safety and that the work is being performed in a safe manner for the protection of the workers.
Section 240 of the Labor Law, also commonly referred to as the “Scaffold Law” is designed to protect workers from falling while working at elevated heights, or other gravity related risks, such as a falling, unsecured/improperly objection. If an owner or general contractor is found to have violated this section and there is no evidence that the worker was the sole proximate cause of his accident. The owner and/or general contractor is held strictly liable for the accident, regardless of the worker’s conduct.
Finally, Section 241 of the Labor Law puts the burden on contractors to comply with the New York Industrial Code, which places safety requirements on contractors for job sites. If one of the Industrial Code sections which mandates a specific course of action or duty of a contractor is violated, this can serve as the basis for liability in a lawsuit.
Legal counsel can help you secure a recovery in several ways. Initially, an experienced lawyer can guide the pre-suit investigation by gathering the material evidence need to build a strong case and demonstrate that the defendants violated the Labor Law and that their violation was a cause of the accident. This typically gathering witness statements, photographs, video, incident reports, permits, violations, and often, communicating with OSHA regarding its investigation into the accident.
Once a lawsuit is initiated, the lawyer will continue the discovery process (gather of evidence) by demanding the key construction documents, including safety records, contracts, and health and safety plans. He will also conduct depositions of witnesses from the defendants’ companies and non-party witnesses.
It is critical to select a firm that is experienced and skilled at navigating the investigation and litigation process to put you in the best position to secure a recovery and to maximize that recovery.
Factors Influencing Settlement Amounts
There are several factors that can impact the amount of recoveries in construction accident cases. These factors include the strength of the liability case, the severity, and permanency of the physical injury, lost wages, loss of pension benefits and other fringe benefits, and the cost of past and future medical expenses.
Some cases will be able to be resolved through negotiation and mediation, while others may need to go to trial. Here at The Grandelli Firm, we only collect attorney’s fees if we secure compensation for you.
Legal Advice for Construction Accident Victims
When a construction accident occurs, there are many steps you should take immediately after the accident:
- Report the accident to your company and/or the general contractor at the job site, if possible. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and continue to seek the treatment recommended to you and that you need for your injuries. Even if your injuries are minor, be sure to see a professional healthcare provider, as some symptoms may not appear until some time after the injury;
- Take photographs. If you are physically able to, document any and all conditions that led to your accident;
- Collect witness information. If your co-workers were present at the time of your accident, make sure you have their names and phone numbers to give to your lawyer;
- Contact a construction accident attorney as soon as possible. A skilled law firm can be the difference between obtaining a recovery and not receiving the compensation you deserve. The Grandelli Firm has decades of experience fighting for injured construction workers and their families in construction accident cases, obtaining some of the highest recoveries in New York for these accident victims.
If you or a loved one has been injured while working at a construction site, contact The Grandelli Firm at 212-668-8400 (Manhattan) or 718-477-1919 (Staten Island), or contact us online.