The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has levied fines against two companies after an accident permanently blinded a construction worker. Fernando Fernandez was working on the Long Wharf Bridge when rebar used to reinforce a concrete pier came detached, striking him and causing multiple serious injuries. He is currently recovering.
Construction sites are dangerous place. According to OSHA, accidental construction deaths account for 24 percent of the annual 5,000 workplace deaths nationwide. While most construction site deaths are caused by falls, other common causes include trench and scaffold collapse, electrocution, and arc flash.
In New York, the incidence of construction deaths is higher than the national average. Thirty-one construction workers died on the job in New York in 2008, an 11 percent increase at a time when the nationwide rate declined 10 percent.
Third Parties May Be Liable
When negligence results in a construction worker’s death in New York, workers’ compensation is the sole avenue for seeking compensation from the employer. However, in many cases, there are other parties who bear some responsibility and may be liable to the family of the deceased construction worker. Lawsuits may be filed against the site owner, equipment owners or the general contractor in appropriate cases, allowing the family of the deceased worker to recover damages from the parties whose negligence caused the death.
New York Labor Law § 240 (1) requires contractors, owners and their agents to erect “scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection” to construction workers. Violation of this law is the basis of many suits by construction workers killed by falls resulting from improperly secured scaffolding or by falling objects. It imposes absolute liability on contractors and owners, even if the construction worker was negligent.
In Cahill v. The Triborough Bridge, the court narrowed the effect of the absolute liability statute to exclude recovery by workers properly trained with respect to safety who chose not to use protection that is readily available to them and are killed or injured as a result.
New York’s statute governing wrongful death sets forth the damages that may be recovered by specified relatives of a deceased person in wrongful death cases. The damages include the future financial support the deceased would have provided, loss of services, loss of a parent’s guidance, and funeral and medical expenses.
Contact An Attorney For More Information
If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer experienced in handling construction accident cases can help you receive the compensation you deserve.