Who is Liable for Construction Site Injuries?

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.

There are many different parties who may be liable when a construction worker suffers an on-the-job injury, including the property owner, the general contractor, sub-contractors, architects or other designers, engineers, construction managers and suppliers of equipment and materials. The number of potential liable parties depends on how large and sophisticated the project is. While many construction projects are based on general contract relationships (where a general contractor retained by the site owner enters into agreements with sub-contractors as needs require), larger projects are increasingly being handled by “construction management” organizations.

If you or your loved one has suffered injuries as the result of a construction accident, take steps to preserve your legal rights by speaking with an attorney about your case as soon as possible. Contact The Orlow Firm in Flushing, NY, today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer experienced in construction accident and injury litigation to discuss your options.

Potential liable parties in construction accident cases

To determine who may be liable for injuries resulting from a construction accident, it is helpful to take a close look at the duties and legal responsibilities of individuals who may be involved in the construction project at issue:

  • Construction site property owners — Generally, landowners have a duty to keep and maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. If someone is injured on their property, landowners will be liable if they knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Whether or not the property owner of the construction site will be liable for any injuries depends on the amount of control over the property exercised by the property owner. If the landowner turned over control of the premises to an independent contractor, the landowner may not be liable for a construction worker’s injuries.
  • General contractors and sub-contractors — Both the general contractor and sub-contractor must provide workers a construction site that is reasonably safe. General and sub-contractors also have a legal duty to warn of any defects or hazards at the site as well as any hazards inherent in the work being performed. Typically, a general contractor or sub-contractor will have a duty to make sure that, to the extent they have been delegated control over a portion of the work being performed at a construction site, work is being performed safely. This duty extends to the hiring of reasonably competent employees, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
  • “Prime” contractors — Prime contractors share similarities with both general and sub-contractors, depending on the specific construction project at issue. While a general contractor has responsibility for the entire project, a prime contractor is responsible only for the work that is identified in his or her prime contract. A prime contractor also is responsible for any work that he or she chooses to delegate to sub-contractors, and has exclusive responsibility over those sub-contractors, including as to payment and work quality.
  • Architects and engineers — These design professionals can be charged with differing amounts of responsibility for a construction project, and often the way to determine the extent of that responsibility is to look to the design professional’s contract with the site owner. Duties can include progress observation to ensure compliance with plans and specifications, and site inspection to ensure compliance with code regulations. Aside from any duty specifically identified in the relevant construction contract, these design professionals are held to certain accepted standards in performing professional services during the design and/or construction phases of the project. An architect or engineer can be held liable for any injuries suffered by construction workers as a result of their failure to meet those standards.
  • Manufacturers of construction machinery or equipment — Manufacturers of defective construction machinery or equipment can be held liable for the design and manufacture (and in some instances maintenance) of that equipment. The legal principles that place liability on a manufacturer or designer of a defective product apply to construction machinery and equipment, including the concept of “no-fault” or “strict” liability. In products liability law, manufacturers have a duty to design products that are reasonably safe for their intended and foreseeable use.
  • Insurers — Especially in situations involving major construction projects, the parties involved will be required to carry adequate insurance coverage. For example, the owner or property manager may be required to carry premises or property liability insurance; and the general and/or sub-contractor may need workers’ compensation, commercial general liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance. The insurance coverage of each party involved in a construction project, and the extent of that coverage, are important issues when assessing legal responsibility for a construction injury.

Contact a construction accident attorney

If you have been injured in a construction site accident, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Orlow Firm in Flushing today to schedule a consultation with an attorney experienced in handling NY construction site injury cases.

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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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Frequently Asked Questions about Construction Accidents

Q: How do I take steps to assert my rights to a safe workplace?

A: If you feel that your workplace is unsafe, your first action should be to make your supervisor aware of the danger, then follow up in writing. If you are still unsuccessful in getting the safety hazard corrected, you can file a complaint at the nearest Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office.

Q: If I’m injured while working on a construction site, is it possible for me to recover more than just workers’ compensation benefits?

A: Workers’ compensation laws only affect your recovery from your employer, not other parties. If other parties, such as equipment manufacturers, property owners or third-party contractors, are responsible for your injuries, you may be able to recover from them in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

Q: Is the construction company liable if a person is injured by materials or other debris from a construction site while walking on a public sidewalk next to that site?

A: The injured person may be able to recover damages from the construction company. Contractors owe a duty to the public to warn and guard against known or reasonably foreseeable dangers from a construction site. Further, the warning must be effective, so merely posting a danger sign usually is not sufficient. The contractor also is responsible for providing adequate walkways around or through the site. In this case, materials from a construction site must be stored in such a way so as not to pose a danger to the public.

Q: I was injured while working on a large construction project. Can I sue the person who owns the property?

A: Depending on the amount of authority over the work that the property owner exercised, and the amount of control he or she had over the property itself when the injury occurred, the property owner may be liable for some or all of your injuries.

Q: Will workers’ compensation cover any injury that happens at work?

A: Workers’ compensation covers most injuries that happen at work or during a work-related activity, although there are some exceptions. By definition, workers’ compensation covers any accidental injuries that occur in the course of employment, regardless of whether the employee or the employer is at fault for the injury.

Q: Who is responsible for making sure that the construction site where I work is safe?

A: The property owner and general contractor (and in some cases sub-contractors) are responsible for ensuring the safety of workers at a construction site. The extent of each party’s responsibility will vary depending on your case.

Q: If I file a complaint against my employer to OSHA, can my employer take any action against me?

A: Your employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against you for filing a complaint with OSHA. This includes denying you a raise, decreasing your hours or pay, or transferring or firing you, among other actions. OSHA provides protection against these types of activities, known as “whistleblower” protection. To preserve your rights, you must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the retaliatory or discriminatory action.

Q: I was injured on the job and an investigation showed that my employer violated OSHA regulations. What will this do to support my case?

A: The answer will depend on whether the violation caused your injury and where your case is heard. Some courts have held that the violation of an OSHA regulation in which an injury resulted is negligence per se, meaning that the OSHA violation is enough to prove the employer’s negligence. Other jurisdictions, however, have found that an OSHA violation can be one factor in finding the employer negligent, but cannot be the only factor.

Q: Should I consult a personal injury attorney to discuss my construction injury claim?

A: Definitely. Your claim may involve complex issues concerning third-party liability, compliance with safety regulations, engineering and indemnity. A personal injury lawyer who is experienced in the area of construction accident liability can help you determine if you have a case, and if you do, how to pursue it.

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Construction Workers’ Rights Under OSHA

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.

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the Department of Labor with the mission to reduce workplace hazards and create a system of health and safety regulations and programs. Under OSHA regulations, employees are granted certain rights and employers are required to ensure those rights are not violated.

If you believe your rights guaranteed under OSHA were violated while working on a construction site, contact The Orlow Firm in Queens, NY, today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer experienced in construction accident and injury litigation.

Employee rights under OSHA

Under OSHA, employees are granted certain rights, including:

  • The right to obtain training from their employer on any chemicals or other hazardous materials they may be exposed to or working with, such as blood-borne pathogens
  • The right to information about OSHA standards, job hazards, worker injuries and workers’ rights from their employer
  • The right to request that a dangerous condition or OSHA violation is corrected by their employer
  • The right to file a complaint to OSHA of a violation or serious hazard in the workplace and to have their name withheld from their employer
  • The right to be involved in any OSHA inspection and, if necessary, appeal the final action
  • The right to file a complaint to OSHA without possibility of retaliation or other discriminatory acts by their employer

Employees also have certain obligations under OSHA, including complying with OSHA and employer safety standards, using all necessary protective equipment (like ear plugs, safety goggles) and reporting any on-the-job injuries or illnesses to their employer immediately.

Employer obligations under OSHA

Among the obligations imposed under OSHA, employers have a duty to:

  • Provide employees a reasonably safe work environment free from recognized hazards
  • Comply with OSHA standards and ensure the work environment conforms with those standards
  • Provide employees with the appropriate safety equipment and training and maintain the safety of the equipment
  • Post the OSHA poster that lists employees’ rights and obligations in a prominent location
  • Keep records of all work-related injuries and illnesses and provide access to this information to employees, former employees and their authorized representatives
  • Do not retaliate or discriminate against employees who file a claim with OSHA or otherwise exercise their rights under OSHA

OSHA inspections

If an employee believes that his or her workplace is hazardous or is otherwise dangerous, the employee can submit a written complaint to the nearest OSHA office. OSHA then will make a determination of whether there are reasonable grounds for believing a violation or other danger exists and whether a workplace inspection is necessary. If it is determined that one is necessary, an inspector will visit the worksite and inspect the premises for unsafe working conditions. During this inspection, a representative of the employer and a representative of the employee may accompany the OSHA inspector during the walk-around. The employer is not allowed to choose the employee’s representative. The inspector also may collect evidence during the inspection, including taking photographs and samples, and interviewing employees and employers. The inspection by the OSHA representative is not limited by the conditions listed in the complaint and he or she may review the entire premises. There are few limitations on the inspection itself, but it may not disrupt the employer’s operations, must be during regular business hours and must be reasonable in nature.

Contact a construction accident lawyer

If you suspect that your employer is in violation of OSHA requirements, or if you have been injured as a result of an OSHA violation, an attorney can explain your rights to you. Contact The Orlow Firm in Queens, NY, today to schedule a consultation with an attorney experienced in handling construction site injury and OSHA violation cases.

 

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 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 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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