As 2015 comes to a close, one thing is clear: It was another bad year for construction accidents in New York City. According to the city's Buildings Department, hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the last fiscal year.
About a quarter of these injuries and deaths took place on large construction projects in Midtown and attracted a significant amount of media attention when they happened. What the media didn't cover was the remaining three quarters. These accidents occurred on smaller projects in other places in the city, often involving contractors who had been previously cited for safety violations. Many of the accident victims were undocumented immigrant laborers.
Many of the injuries were related to falls that took place when employers forced undocumented workers to work without ladders, scaffolds, nets, ropes or other required safety equipment. These workers did not always wear harnesses or helmets, as required by law. Supervision was lacking, and shortcuts were taken in order to complete projects quickly.
Of course, it is illegal for employers to hire undocumented workers, but that does not stop contractors - especially contractors who violate the law in other ways - from continuing to do so. Undocumented workers are especially vulnerable because of their legal status. Many work without proper safety equipment or proper training, but they are afraid to speak up because they are undocumented.
Undocumented workers should know that they do have rights after a construction accident. Citizenship or legal status is of no importance in bringing a construction accident lawsuit. Undocumented workers can file personal injury lawsuits with their lawyers' help. If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction accident, talk with a lawyer about the situation. You may be entitled to compensation.