It’s one of the most ubiquitous sights in New York City: construction sites, complete with ever-present scaffolding. Workers with a multitude of skills can work at great heights to complete the tasks involved with creating new buildings and structures.
That increase in height also increases the chances of a workplace accident. Whether you’re working construction on the ground or atop a scaffold, falls are the biggest hazard on a site, the leading cause of injury and death for construction workers.
Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, welders, and many others also use scaffolding in the course of their everyday jobs. Anyone required to use a scaffold at great heights is at risk for injury. They should not be responsible for paying medical and other costs when their injuries are from someone else’s negligence.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines designed for worker safety and to reduce or eliminate worker accidents. OSHA requires that all scaffolds must be:
- Directly connect to floors and roofs, and include anti-tipping counterweights
- Be located three feet or more from insulated power lines and ten feet or more from uninsulated power lines
- Support their own weight, and at least four times the maximum load intended
- Supported by stable objects
- Also be equipped with mid rails, guardrails, and toe boards
- Undergo a complete inspection, and repeated re-inspections to ensure worker safety
In addition, employers must also provide proper safety training for employees who are either working on scaffolding or around it. Without understanding safety precautions and protocol, falls, electrocutions, collapses and other types of accidents can seriously harm one or more workers.
New York actually has its own Scaffold Laws addressing the safety of scaffolding used in the state. Section 240 of New York’s Labor Laws spell out specific requirements for scaffolds intended for use by workers. The law makes contractors and owners responsible for scaffolding and its accouterments (ladders, hoists, etc.) These requirements include:
- Safety railings 34 inches (nearly 3 feet) in height on scaffolding 20 feet or more above the ground
- These railings must enclose both ends and the entire length of the scaffold, and be securely fastened to prevent swaying
- Scaffolding must bear a load of at least 4 times its own weight
The parties who are responsible for assigning and managing work are given strict liability for any accidents with scaffolds. This means that just failed to provide scaffolding and additional equipment meeting the New York Labor Law standards could be enough to establish liability—and your right to seek compensation.
Types Of Claims
There are three types of claims you could file after a scaffolding accident:
- Workers’ Compensation: this employer-paid insurance covers your medical expenses and part of your income for a specified period while you recuperate. If you decide to file for worker’s compensation, you’ll receive a faster payout but lose the right to sue your employer if it’s warranted.
- Personal Injury: a claim filed against a party responsible for your injuries. This could be your employer or a third party that exhibited negligence. Depending on the facts of your case, this claim could be filed in addition to and concurrently with a claim for worker’s compensation.
- Wrongful Death: If you’ve lost a loved one to a construction or scaffolding accident, you can recover damages on their behalf. A wrongful death lawsuit against a responsible party allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your loved one.
Know one thing: from the moment you file your claim, you’ll experience considerable pushback. Contractors, property owners, developers, and others will continually defer blame and avoid responsibility (and the blame) for your accident. Insurance companies will also work hard to ensure that your claim is denied and you receive little or nothing for your injuries.
That’s why it’s important to speak with an NYC construction and accident lawyer before you speak to anyone else about your accident.
Deadlines For Filing Claims
While your first priority should be recovery, be aware that there are deadlines you must observe. Otherwise, you will lose your claim. These depend on what type of claim you are filing:
- For a Worker’s Compensation claim, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the accident, and file the WC claim within one year of the date of the accident.
- For a personal injury claim, New York’s statute of limitations is three years from the time of the accident.
- For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the death of the deceased.
If you don’t file your claim in the correct time frame, your claim is likely to be dismissed. Speak with a personal injury lawyer who understands New York’s laws regarding construction and scaffolding accidents.
Why Hire A Lawyer?
The best reason is so that you can let someone else handle your legal case while you concentrate on recovering and healing your injuries. Chances are you don’t handle legal cases every day. Lawyers do and can make sure that your case is handled the right way.
Employers are frequently the responsible and liable party when someone is injured in a workplace accident. Construction and scaffolding accidents may also include:
- Other third parties like property owners and equipment manufacturers
All are responsible for inspecting equipment and ensuring that workers are safe on the job. A New York City construction accident attorney can investigate your accident and help hold all of these individuals responsible. With the right representation, you’ll be able to receive compensation for your expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Workers’ compensation doesn’t always cover everything, particularly for long-term catastrophic injuries. Your only opportunity to collect damages may be a third-party claim to get needed compensation.
New York City Construction Worker Injury Lawyers
Construction work has always been dangerous, and construction workers of all kinds are always in demand. Unfortunately, accidents do happen when scaffolding is involved.
If you or a loved one was injured at a construction site while using scaffolding, our New York City workplace accident lawyers are here to help. We have considerable experience with scaffolding injuries and other kinds of personal injury cases.
From our Manhattan office, we represent injured construction workers throughout the New York City area. Call us today at (212) 777-9400 or contact us online for a free consultation.