Construction Accidents and Workers’ Compensation

The lawyers of The Orlow Firm have helped individuals who have been injured in forklift, crane and elevator accidents, and other accidents, on construction sites in New York. When you retain our services, you can rely on our effective representation, personal client service and focus on results. We are dedicated to helping each client recover maximum compensation for their injuries.

If you have been injured while working at a construction site, your financial recovery may be affected by workers’ compensation laws, depending on your employment situation and the degree of liability on your employer’s part. Keep in mind that parties other than your employer may be legally responsible for your injuries (such as third-party contractors, property owners or equipment manufacturers) and your recovery from those parties will most likely not be affected by workers’ compensation laws.

If you or a family member was injured in a construction accident, contact The Orlow Firm in Flushing to schedule a consultation with a lawyer to learn how workers’ compensation laws in NY may affect your recovery.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system of laws outlining specific benefits to which an injured employee is entitled. Workers’ compensation benefits may include compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, disability and rehabilitation benefits. Most businesses must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover its employees. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing any other insurance claim. It is not a lawsuit against an employer, but rather a request for benefits.

Under most workers’ compensation programs, an injured employee is entitled to:

  • Medical care — The injured party has the right to all reasonably necessary treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. While benefits may vary by state, this usually includes reimbursement for medical bills, prescriptions and reasonable travel expenses for necessary visits to the doctor for treatment.An injured worker receiving benefits under his or her employer’s workers’ compensation plan may be required to use a company-approved doctor for treatment. Workers will want to check with their employers about this requirement and discuss any other available options for medical care with their attorneys.
  • Disability pay — If the injured worker must take time away from work either temporarily or permanently due to medical reasons related to the injury, he or she may be entitled to disability payments. There are specific maximum and minimum limits to the pay rate, and the amount varies by state. There are four different types of disability for which an injured worker may qualify: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent total disability and permanent partial disability.Temporary total disability is the most common type of disability and is available during the period of time workers need to heal before they can return to their jobs. States have varying standards to determine if an injured worker is eligible for this type of benefit. Workers generally are paid a percentage of their wages, although states may have different formulas for determining the amount.
  • Rehabilitation — There are two different types of rehabilitation benefits: physical and vocational. Generally, physical rehabilitation is intended to help an injured employee cope with and overcome the effects of the injury. This can include physical therapy and other assistance to help the employee return to the type of work he or she was doing before the injury.If the injury is so severe that an employee will be unable to perform the duties of his or her old job, then vocational rehabilitation may be available. This type of rehabilitation focuses on job training so the worker can return to the workforce in a new capacity.
  • Death benefits — If an employee suffers an injury at work or while performing job-related work and dies from that injury, the employee’s surviving family members are entitled to death benefits. While it is usually the spouse, children or parents who qualify for these benefits, some states allow other extended family members to collect if they were dependent on the deceased worker’s financial support.

What to do if you are injured at work

Here are tips for filing workers’ compensation claims if you are injured on the job:

  • Report the injury to the employer. If possible, report the injury in writing and keep a copy of the report for your records.
  • Complete a claim form. No matter how the employer learns of the incident, they must offer the injured worker a claim form immediately. Until this claim form is completed, the employer has no obligation to provide benefits. Make sure it is filled out completely and correctly. Keep a copy of the claim. It is then the employer’s responsibility to notify the workers’ compensation insurance company.
  • File the claim as soon as possible. Those seeking to claim workers’ compensation benefits should do so quickly. Any delay on the injured worker’s part could lead to potential delays or even a loss of benefits. Immediately reporting injuries and filing a claim increases the likelihood that benefits will begin quickly.

Contact a NYC construction accident attorney

Workers’ compensation laws and benefits vary greatly by state, but a lawyer can explain your particular state’s laws and help you determine a course of action. Contact The Orlow Firm in Flushing today to schedule a consultation with a construction site accident lawyer experienced in handling NY construction accident and workers’ compensation cases.

Call (646) 647-3398 or send us a message online to schedule a free consultation.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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Construction Accident Resource Links

Employee workplace rights
From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). What to do if you question the safety of your workplace. Lists addresses and phone numbers for more information.

OSHA Construction eTool
This eTool will help you identify and control the hazards that commonly cause the most serious construction injuries.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related disease and injury.

Department of Labor (DOL) resources for workers
Resource for workers, including information on each state’s workers’ compensation laws, whistleblower protection and health and safety guidelines.

OSHA Construction Resource Manual
The manual contains important information on inspections, penalties for violations, reporting requirements for injuries, access to records, health and safety standards and more.

Manufacturing and construction statistics
Features construction statistics, including new residential construction and sales, residential improvements, permits and more, from the United States Census Bureau.

Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program
Resource for employees whose employers have discriminated or retaliated against them for filing a workplace hazard complaint with OSHA. Provides information on the types of employer activities that may constitute retaliation or discrimination, the steps for filing a complaint against an employer and links to the OSHA Whistleblower Investigations Manual.

Construction safety and health information
Information on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) program that seeks to develop goals and performance measures for decreasing construction accidents and injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a construction accident, contact The Orlow Firm today for a free consultation and case evaluation. (646) 647-3398

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Construction Worker Dead After Condo Crumples in Brooklyn

Firefighters worked feverishly to get through debris of an apartment complex in Brooklyn that fell during construction recently. They were able to rescue five workers from fragments of metal that collapsed due to recently poured concrete. According to the Fire Department, one of the five workers died after being rescued following the construction accident.

Details of Construction Accident

As stated by Deputy Chief Michael Marrone of the Fire Department, three of the other laborers remained stable at Lutheran Medical Center, while the fifth, who was outside during the collapse, refused treatment.

The structure was designed with other apartment units close to Neptune Avenue in Brighton Beach. It fell with a loud metallic screech that was audible for several blocks.

“It sounded like the second floor collapsed and the third floor followed. The slabs just came buckling down,” Robert Approbato, a worker on-site, told The New York Times. Approbato said the accident occurred after concrete was sent to the upper floors of the complex. Workers were heard screaming and yelling.

Nearby residents heard fragments of the building fall from a few blocks away. One such resident, Dennis Lenberski, said, “It was like two metal pieces breaking, then a crash. It was like a car accident.”

Buildings Department Commissioner Robert LiMandri explained that workers did not properly follow concrete pouring procedure. The workers started on the upper floors and worked down, when they should have begun at the lower floors. LiMandri said he considers this as a major contributing factor to the breakdown.

“We expect to take some action against some of the parties when we know exactly what happened,” said LiMandri.

Construction workers injured in an accident such as this have the available remedy of workers’ compensation to help them while they are injured. However, New York law is extremely protective of workers and under certain conditions the owner and/or contractor will be held liable for injuries that befall a worker (as long as they are not the worker’s direct employer) – this is in addition to workers’ compensations benefits due the worker. Every situation is different, so contact an experienced construction site accident attorney in your area to discuss your rights and options.

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Injured Construction Workers May Pursue Third-Party Claims

Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places people can work. There are a variety of potential hazards, and even with proper safety measures, construction accidents still occur. When construction workers are injured on the job, it is important that they know about the options available to them to receive compensation for their injuries.

In New York, a construction worker’s direct employer’s liability is limited to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation provides weekly cash benefits and medical care for injured employees. The injured worker cannot seek further compensation from his or her employer through the court system, even if the employer was negligent.

Workers’ compensation has an advantage because workers qualify regardless of whether the injury was the employer’s fault. However, workers may be able to obtain more compensation through a civil claim.

Types Of Third-Party Claims

Even though injured workers cannot seek further compensation through their employer, they can seek compensation through a third-party claim. Third-party suits seek to hold others responsible when their negligence contributed to a work accident and resulting injury. Third-party claims often provide injured workers with more compensation than benefits from workers’ compensation. Third-party claims may include:

  • Contractors and subcontractors: Contractors and subcontractors are an integral part of most construction sites. When their carelessness, negligence or errors cause injuries, they can be subject to a third-party claim.
  • Product liability claims: If a worker is injured by a defective machine or part, he or she may hold the manufacturer responsible.
  • Property owners: Property owners have a duty to provide a safe place for construction employees to work. The extent of their obligation will depend on individual circumstances, but property owners can be held liable if workers are injured because of property owners’ failures.
  • Others: Agents of other companies and others whose negligence contributes to a construction site accident or injury may be subject to third-party claims.

Third-party claims can result from any worker injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, common worker injuries include falls, backovers, crane accidents, injuries from falling objects, burns, explosions and injuries from defective or improperly maintained equipment.

Complex Claims

Third-party construction accident claims are complex in part because they often include more than one defendant. In one New York case that went to trial in 2012, an injured worker sued both the property owner and a contracting company that had been hired to renovate a building where he was injured.

The worker was an employee of another company. He and a co-worker were performing asbestos abatement from an elevated basket attached to a man lift. The man lift rolled down a hill, the basket overturned and the worker was injured when he fell about 20 feet to the ground.

The third-party claim alleged that the defendants did not make sure that construction areas were safe for workers and they did not provide proper safety equipment. A jury agreed; the plaintiff was awarded $10 million for past and future pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages.

An Experienced Attorney Can Advise You

Because third-party construction claims are complex, injured construction workers and their families should consult with a lawyer who is experienced with third-party claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide advice about whether you have a potential third-party claim, help you enforce your rights and ensure that you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.

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More American Workers Now Dying in Workplace Accidents

Despite new technologies and safety advances, increasing numbers of Americans are dying in workplace accidents. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 workers died as the result of traumatic workplace injuries in 2010. This is an increase from the 4,551 fatalities in 2009. To put the current number in perspective, about 13 workers die on the job each day in America.

13 Job-Related Deaths A Day

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis stated, “Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”

The construction industry is responsible for a significant percentage of workplace fatalities. In 2010, 18.7 percent of workplace deaths were due to construction accidents. Over a third of the fatalities on construction sites were caused by falls. The other three main causes of construction worker deaths were electrocutions, being struck by objects and being caught in between objects. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) refers to these four causes of construction accidents as the “fatal four.” The fatal four cause 437 construction worker fatalities each year.

Construction Accidents In New York City

New York City has been taking action to reduce construction accidents. After two crane accidents in 2008 killed three workers, and a demolition fire in 2007 killed two firefighters, the city began passing new rules and laws to prevent such accidents. According to the mayor’s office, over 5,000 stop-work orders were issued by the Buildings Department in 2011 for safety violations.

The enforcement of the new safety regulations appears to be making a difference. Construction accidents in New York City fell by 18 percent in 2011; and accidents causing injury decreased by almost eight percent. These gains occurred even as construction activity increased by almost eight percent.

Despite these improvements, five New York City construction workers lost their lives in accidents due to safety violations. The loss of even one life from such a preventable accident is far too many.

Contact An Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction or other workplace accident, contact an attorney to discuss your rights and potential claims. An experienced attorney can advocate on your behalf to help ensure responsible parties are held accountable.

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