Accident and Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Many accident victims are overwhelmed by their injuries, and the thought of a legal case can seem daunting. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, our legal team understands these feelings, and we’ve compiled our thoughts on many common worries here to help you get started finding the answers you need to protect yourself and your family. If you’ve been hurt in a construction, maritime, or railroad accident, browse our FAQs today.

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  • What can be done to prevent construction falls?

    On construction sites, many hazards result in devastating accidents. Construction workers may be at risk of electrical shock, falling debris, and countless other dangers that are present on the job every single day they head to work. However, in Bronx, Queens, and across New York City, falls are an especially prevalent cause of construction fatalities and injuries. As a result, you should be mindful of the risks you face while working in high places and try to do what you can to avoid falling down. Furthermore, construction companies have a responsibility to do what they can to prevent falls.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration discusses some of the different ways that construction falls can be avoided. For example, workers should always have property safety equipment and work on the appropriate type of scaffolding or ladder. Depending on the job, harnesses may be very important. Prior to starting a project, contractors and construction companies should make sure that all steps have been taken to reduce the likelihood of a fall. All construction workers should also have the appropriate training beforehand.

    Over the course of 2015, 350 construction workers in the U.S. lost their lives due to falling, which makes falls the number one cause of construction fatalities. Unfortunately, some construction workers fall because of someone else's negligence. If one of your family members fell down and was injured or passed away, or if you are trying to cope with the consequences of a serious injury after falling, you should make sure that anyone's negligent behavior is addressed. If you have any questions about an accident, call our construction site fall lawyers at 212-465-8840.

  • What are some of the deadliest construction accidents?

    On construction sites across the country, there are all sorts of hazards that workers need to look out for. Sadly, these dangers often leave construction workers with serious injuries that change their lives for the worse. Sadly, in New York City, construction accidents have also claimed too many lives over the years. As a result, it is essential for construction workers and the companies that employ them to be aware of some of the main causes of deadly construction accidents.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration draws attention to four primary reasons why construction workers lose their lives on job sites. Known as the fatal four, these accidents made up for 64 percent of all fatal construction accidents during 2015 according to OSHA. Falling, which includes ladder falls and scaffolding accidents, accounted for 38 percent of construction worker deaths throughout 2015. However, there were other accidents that occurred far too frequently, including electrocution, becoming caught-in or between and being struck by objects. In fact, an estimated 602 lives would be saved each year in the U.S. if it were not for these four types of accidents.

    If you have been hurt in a job site accident, you need to examine your choices immediately. Depending on what happened, you may have different resources to help you move forward. For example, you may be eligible for workers' comp, or you may even want to look into holding a negligent person or company accountable. Regardless, you should do everything you can to put the accident behind you and move on with your life, if possible.

  • Why Do Falls Happen So Often on Construction Sites?

    Falls are one of the top risks on New York construction sites. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls are the number one cause of death on construction job sites. Anytime you are working at a height four feet or more off the ground, you increase your risk of a fall accident.

    There are many hazards in the workplace that lead to such accidents. This can include not following safety protocol or regulations, such as using scaffolding. In many cases, accidents happen because workers are not using the correct type of safety protection for the situation they are working in. Some accidents may happen due to not paying attention to your surroundings or not being aware of risks in the area, such as a skylight or drop off. Misusing safety equipment is another issue. Not properly anchoring ladders, not wearing a harness correctly or trying to use improperly built scaffolding are all examples of this.

    The best way to avoid a fall accident on a construction site is to get proper safety training. Your employer should offer such training to help you understand how and when to use safety equipment, along with the safety protocols you need to observe when working at heights. In addition, your employer should provide you with the proper safety gear and equipment. Finally, just staying alert and aware can decrease your risks of a fall. It is also important to report safety concerns or situations that you have seen. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

  • What Are The Main Risks For Oil Rig Workers?

    Oil rigs are a dangerous place to work. As a New York oil rig worker, you may understand this, but not be fully aware of all the risks of working in this profession. The good news, according to Time, is large offshore oil rig injury incidents are very rare. However, when they happen, the potential for fatalities and severe injuries is very high. This scenario could be compared to a plane crash because plane crashes do not occur often, but generally, have very dire outcomes when they do.

    There are many safety rules, regulations and procedures in place to minimize the chances of injuries on an oil rig. Escaping a rig that has exploded or is on fire can be difficult. Usually, watertight pods are used to try to get you away from the scene until help can arrive. The Coast Guard would be the reporting authority and usually is not close by, so you have to wait for help, sometimes for hours. This can be detrimental if you are injured.

    Smaller accidents onboard a rig happen all the time. You likely work 12 or more hours a day. You are isolated from your family for weeks at a time. The general working environment is hazardous with flammable materials and large equipment. This combination of factors can lead to accidents. While injuries may not be as bad, they are still a concern because help can be so difficult to get when you are hundreds of miles away from shore. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

  • How Can Scaffolding Injuries Be Reduced?

    Construction workers in New York City have a unique struggle to face. They're almost always working up rather than out due to the limited area the city occupies, and the fact that high rise buildings and sky scrapers are common there. Unfortunately, this also means that scaffolding-related injuries are common.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has pointed out that up to 65 percent of the construction industry works on scaffolds. This translates to 60 fatal accidents and 4,500 non-fatal accidents that occur on scaffolding every year. Reducing these injuries can be difficult simply due to the environment that workers like you have to deal with. There's a lot going on all at once and just one slip of the mind or a tiny mistake can result in a fall.

    If you want to reduce the potential of scaffolding-related accidents and injury, you should check out tools like a safety and health program tailored to point out the biggest hazards in scaffolding. This can help you identify potential dangers or hazardous situations before they become an issue. Additionally, you may want to keep one of OSHA's checklists on hand. They provide a different one for different types of scaffolding and list out the dangers specific to that scaffolding type. Being able to physically keep track of issues or things that need to be watched may do wonders for the safety of your construction site.

    Of course, mindfulness also plays a role. Try to instruct your workers to keep an eye on their surroundings at all times. When combined with the above tools, it's possible to reduce the dangers of working on scaffolding.

  • How is a claim made under the Longshore Act?

    If you work in the maritime industry in New York, then it is important to understand the laws that protect you if you get injured while on the job. While traditional jobs are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you have protection under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the LHWCA offers payment for injures if you work in a maritime occupation, excluding seamen.

    If you get hurt on the job, you will need to file a claim under the LHWCA. It is your responsibility to alert your employer to your injury within 30 days of noticing symptoms or of the injury occurring. If it is a non-emergency situation, you should ask your employer for the proper form you must file to seek treatment and then get proper medical care. If your death is caused on the job, then your family will need to file a death benefits form to get compensation for your medical care and other benefits.

    If you do not follow the proper protocols for filing a claim, you may be unable to collect compensation for lost wages and other claims. However, in most cases, even if reporting is done properly, your medical expenses will still be covered. Do be aware that you will not be covered if it is found you harmed yourself or your injuries were caused by you being intoxicated at the time of the injury. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

  • What are the “fatal four” accidents in construction?

    With the rapid rise in construction fatalities in New York over the last decade, you may be like many people who are wondering what can be done to prevent any more tragedies. Researchers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have determined that over 64 percent of all construction worker deaths are caused by certain accidents that they are terming the “fatal four.” Here is what you need to know about these so you can avoid serious accidents and injuries.

    Studies have shown that over 20 percent of all worker deaths occur on a construction site, and the biggest cause of these fatalities is falls. This problem accounted for over 38 percent of fatalities, meaning that, of the 937 total construction deaths in 2015, 364 were due to falls. These can be due to neglect, equipment failure or other types of accidents.

    The three other causes in the fatal four each account for less than 10 percent of the total deaths. These include workers who are struck by an object, electrocuted, or caught in or between something. The last category includes everything from being crushed in a collapse, compressed by objects and equipment, and caught in material.

    Many of these deaths were due to violations. Some of the most frequently cited issues include scaffolding requirements, fall protection, ladder concerns, hazard communication and machine guarding. This information is intended to educate you about the most common dangers and risks found on construction sites and should not be taken as legal advice.

  • What Are The Most Common Life-threatening Accidents At Sea?

    When it comes to jobs that take place while you are on a vessel, the accidents can be quite different than those on land in New York. The fact that you are miles out to sea and operating on a large ship means you will be presented with unique challenges that can also lead to dangerous circumstances. Marine Insight gives some of the most common situations you may face that can put your life in danger.

    First are situations that require a high level of skill and can lead to the loss of life if certain guidelines are not followed. This includes mooring operations, lifeboat testing and hot work. The flammable materials aboard ships can prove especially dangerous and lead to fatalities, even when you are performing basic procedures.

    Next are falls. These can occur in many different fields, but maritime accidents have their own set of fall risks. Gangways can fail due to a lack of maintenance and drop you to the ground far below. Some ships are tall and also require cleaning and repair at great heights. Cargo holds can also be prime spots for a slip and fall. These falls are sometimes due to negligence and other times due to the failure of safety devices. Falling overboard during storms and accidents can also lead to death.

    You can also find other dangers that involve the machinery on a ship. Boilers, compressors and crankcases can sometimes explode and exposed wires can lead to electrical shocks. This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

  • What is the Most common Cause of Shipyard Injuries?

    When it comes to maintaining and repairing ships, the risks that are inherent with this profession are unique because of the type of work and positions that you are required to perform and hold. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that one of the biggest causes of injury in New York shipyards as well as others across the country comes from the necessity to complete hot work.

    Hot work in shipyards included any brazing, cutting or welding jobs. The tools you require to complete these jobs are part of the problem, since they create a constant vibrating motion that can cause you to develop debilitating injuries over time. These can include carpal tunnel syndrome and white finger disease.

    Other ways you can be injured while working with hot processes is through burns and shock. Eye injuries are also commonly reported and can range from minor to serious. Over-exposure to the elements and chemicals can also lead to long-term disability.

    In addition to these risks, one of the most common causes of shipyard injury is the positioning that you need to hold while performing these tasks. Many times, hot work must be done on a vessel that requires you to bend into and hold uncomfortable positions for a long period of time. This can lead to poor posture, putting pressure on your neck, spine and back. In some cases, lengthy time spent kneeling can also lead to problems with the knees, while continuously holding tight hand grips is also dangerous. This information is solely intended to educate and should not be considered legal advice.

  • Are violations to blame for construction accidents?

    A top concern for New York lawmakers has been the high rate of accidents on construction sites, which could lead to your serious injury or death. According to Insurance Journal, there have been almost 500 deaths of construction workers in New York City alone over the past decade. Officials have been seeking to lower this number with 18 bills currently attempting to make changes that will lead to safer work environments for construction workers.

    There are many ways that you can be injured as you work on a construction site, but statistics show that almost half of the deaths across the state are were caused by falls. While union construction sites were proven to be safer for you than non-union locations, over 90 percent of sites where fatalities occurred were found to be in violation of the safety standards set forth by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

    Various acts are being proposed in an effort to decrease the number of worker fatalities and increase compliance with safety guidelines. Some of these include additional guardrails, nets and penalties for violations. Experts state that a greater effort needs to be made in training and education in order to provide you with the knowledge you need to operate safely.

    While New York City currently has a 10-hour training program in place, you are only required to take it if you will be stationed on very tall or large buildings. An effort is being made to expand this training for all workers. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.