Construction 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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When is a construction worker’s car accident considered a work injury?
A car accident can result in many complications that can keep construction workers off the job for months, including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, joint damage, neck and back injuries, or spinal cord injuries that can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia. If you were involved in a crash while in the service of your employer, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for medical costs and lost wages resulting from the accident.
Common Causes of Work-Related Car Accidents in the Construction Industry
Employers will only provide workers’ compensation benefits for vehicle accidents that are “work-related,” but the definition of work-related can vary from workplace to workplace. Although any injury sustained at the work location is often covered, employees also qualify if they are injured during work-related travel or if they are away from the job site in order to do a task that benefits the employer.
Employees may be able to collect workers’ compensation for a construction motor vehicle crash if they were:
Hit By A Car While Working
If a driver strikes a worker who is standing near the roadway, the injured employee can not only collect workers’ compensation, but may also be entitled to file a lawsuit against the driver for pain and suffering damages.
Driving A Company Vehicle
An employee who is driving a delivery van, truck, bulldozer, or other vehicle may collect compensation when these vehicles are involved in an accident. In addition, the worker may file a third-party lawsuit if the injury was caused by poor vehicle maintenance or defective parts.
Struck By A Company Vehicle
If an employee is struck by a co-worker who is operating a car, truck, dump truck, or other heavy equipment moving in and out of the construction zone, his or her injuries would be covered by workers’ compensation.
Performing Tasks For An Employer Or Co-Worker
Workers may be denied benefits if they are injured when they are “off the clock,” such during lunch breaks or while traveling to and from work. However, there may be an exception for off-the-clock injuries if the injured worker was running errands for an employer, such as picking up coffee and bagels for the whole team before work, or dropping off a package for the employer on a lunch break.
Traveling Between Sites
Employees may be covered if they were asked to drive their own vehicles to pick up additional construction materials, shuttle co-workers to the owner’s other work sites, make work-related deliveries, or bring clients to view a property.
Have You Been Injured While Working On A Construction Site?
If you've been hurt while working at your construction job you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our New York City law office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.
You can also read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.
Can I pursue a third-party claim and a workers’ compensation claim?
New York construction workers should file for workers’ compensation as soon as possible after an injury in order to get payment for their medical bills and lost wages. However, workers’ compensation benefits are limited in how much compensation they provide—and the amount received may not cover the full costs of a serious construction accident. In these cases, a third-party claim could provide additional payment for a worker’s pain and suffering, permanent losses, and reduced quality of life.
Third-Party Injury Cases That May Be Filed After a Construction Accident
Construction employees can file third-party injury claims while they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but they should be aware that the two claims are very different. For one thing, employees are required to prove fault in an injury claim in order to receive damages. In addition, the negligent party will have to make a case to refute the charges against him or her, which may involve going to court.
Common examples of third-party injury cases include:
While construction workers are generally limited in their ability to sue an employer after a work injury in New York, they may be eligible to file an injury lawsuit against the general contractor, subcontractor, or owner of the property.
In addition to collecting workers’ compensation death benefits, surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party to recover a construction worker’s medical care related to the fatal accident and permanent loss of income and support.
Injuries or deaths involving construction equipment could lead to a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the equipment. A manufacturer may be liable if the equipment was defective, poorly designed, assembled improperly, inadequately tested, or did not warn users of the risks involved.
One caveat with pursuing a third-party claim is that courts generally do not allow double recoveries for the same injury. Simply put, if your workers’ compensation benefits paid for your medical bills and your third-party settlement includes payment for medical bills, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may place a lien on the proceeds of your injury case. However, the workers’ compensation insurance company is only entitled to recoup the benefits they have already paid to an injured worker.
If you have been injured on a New York City construction site, our attorneys can get you the compensation you are owed. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today. We also invite you to read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.
How can I determine whose negligence caused my construction injury?
A construction site is a bustling environment, and it can be difficult to tell exactly who could be responsible for the cost of medical bills and lost income when an injury occurs. An attorney can help discover why the accident happened, find the negligent party, and obtain justice and compensation for the victim.
Who May Be Held Liable in a Construction Injury Case
The law applies a doctrine of negligence to establish the person or persons who may held liable for an injury. A person may be liable if he or she had a duty of care to the victim, breached that duty of care, and caused direct harm and losses as a result of that breach. However, not all parties owe the same level of care to construction workers, and establishing negligence may quickly become complicated.
Negligence for an injury or fatality on a NYC construction site could fall on many parties, including:
Construction Site Owners.
Construction site owners are more likely to be found negligent if they allow dangerous conditions to exist on the property, or if they are involved in the day-to-day operations of the work. Employees who are gravely injured can also include an employer in a construction injury lawsuit against the owner of the property.
The general contractor is tasked with ensuring the safety of all workers on the construction site, informing construction workers of any potential hazards or unsafe conditions, hiring competent employees, and enforcing safety regulations.
A subcontractor may be named in a lawsuit if he or she failed to perform safety regulations and duties for a specific task on the project.
Architects, Engineers, and Designers.
Design professionals have a responsibility to create plans that are in compliance with building regulations, perform routine inspections on the construction site, and ensure that the building is being erected according to specifications.
Our New York City construction accident attorneys can examine the details of your case to see which third parties may be responsible, as well as work to get you the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed. Simply fill out our quick online contact form, call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.
Can I sue my employer for a construction injury?
Under workers' compensation laws, an injured employee gives up the right to file an injury lawsuit against a co-worker or employer. Workers' compensation was created as a no-fault system, so it guarantees benefits regardless of who caused the injury. However, New York laws do allow a co-worker or employer to be named in a work injury lawsuit if the employee suffered a particularly serious injury.
NY Employees Can Sue Employers After a Grave Construction Injury
New York workers' compensation law contains a special provision allowing employers to be sued after a work accident. An employee who has suffered a "grave injury" can file a third-party lawsuit against a contractor, construction site owner, or other party whose negligence contributed to the injury. The third-party then has the right to bring the employer into the lawsuit to share liability for the injury and damages, adding to the injured worker’s potential recovery.
An employer may be brought into a work injury lawsuit if the employee suffered one or more of the following:
- Total and permanent blindness
- Total and permanent deafness
- Loss of a nose
- Loss of an ear
- Permanent and severe facial disfigurement
- Loss of an index finger
- Loss of multiple fingers
- Loss of multiple toes
- Permanent and total loss of use (including amputation) of an arm, leg, hand or foot
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in permanent total disability
If you were injured while working on a New York City construction site, we can help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve and determine whether you may be able to file a third-party claim. Our team will examine who may be to blame for the accident, gather the medical evidence that proves the extent of your injuries, and hire medical experts to determine how your injuries may affect your financial future. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a construction injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.
Who can be held liable for a wrongful death due to a crane accident?
Crane accidents cause hundreds of injuries to construction workers every year, many of which are fatal. According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), 220 workers were killed in crane-related deaths between 2011 to 2015, most of them employed in the private construction industry. When a construction worker loses his or her life, family members have a right to know who was responsible—and who should pay for the financial and emotional losses they have suffered.
Common Causes of Crane Accidents in the Construction Industry
The most common causes of crane fatalities involve loads dropping suddenly from a height, workers struck by swinging loads, or crane collapse. When these accidents occur, state laws allow families to collect workers’ compensation death benefits, but also grant the right to sue property owners and contractors for a New York construction injury.
Surviving family members may be able to seek damages from third parties if the crane accident resulted from:
Crane foundations must be installed according to manufacturer and safety specifications, and contractors could be liable for crane moement due to shifting ground conditions or installing the crane too close to electrical power lines.
If the crane was badly designed, not tested thoroughly, or suffered defects in the manufacturing process, the maker of the crane can be held liable. In addition, a product manufacturer can be liable if its crane components failed (such as rigging, hooks, slings, pulleys, or wire rope).
Lack of Training or Supervision
Contractors may be liable for deaths caused by unqualified crane operators, failure to appoint a signalman, or allowing crane operations without adequate supervision.
Failure to Warn
Crane manufacturers must provide clear warnings of the dangers of crane operation, including the risks of exceeding the load capacity of the crane.
Improper Maintenance or Inspections
Cranes must undergo rigorous inspection to identify any defects before they can be used to hoist loads. Unfortunately, many components fail because faulty conditions are not corrected or maintenance is not adequately performed.
While nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can give family members closure and comfort, as well as give them the resources they need to move on with their lives. As a surviving relative, you may be able to collect damages for your loved one’s medical bills, end-of-life costs, lost financial benefits, lost guidance and emotional support, and other consequences of an accidental death. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call 800-362-9329 to speak with a construction injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer about your legal rights and options.
Can I get workers' compensation for hearing loss on a construction site?
According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses among American workers. The good news is that hearing loss is a recognized occupational condition, and those afflicted may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, since this condition may occur gradually over time, employees may have a difficult time proving that their condition is work-related.
Types of Occupational Hearing Loss Covered by Workers' Compensation
Daily exposure to industrial machinery on a construction site can cause many types of injury, including hearing loss. NIOSH warns that noise levels of 85 decibels or more have the potential to cause hearing damage—and constant exposure to high noise levels can cause irreversible hearing loss.
Hearing loss on a construction site can occur in a number of ways, including:
- Repetitive stress. The most common cause of occupational hearing loss is repetitive exposure in the work environment. Employees in New York are required to wait three months from their last date of employment before they can apply for workers’ compensation for repetitive stress injuries, including occupational hearing loss.
- Sudden trauma. If hearing loss occurred as a result of an accident (such as a blow to the head or near-drowning), the injured employee can apply for workers’ compensation immediately and has two years from the date of the injury to make a claim.
- Toxic chemicals. Some chemicals and solvents on construction sites may be ototoxic, meaning they can damage the structures of the ear canal. Hearing loss in these cases can be immediate or take weeks to develop, so medical evidence is usually necessary to link the condition to the workplace.
- Negligence. Most cases of occupational hearing loss could have been prevented if hearing protection had been provided. New York construction workers may be able to file a work injury lawsuit against a contractor or other third-party who failed to provide proper protective hearing equipment or train employees on hearing loss prevention.
Once you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you should make an appointment with a hearing loss specialist. This doctor will perform a number of tests to determine how much of your hearing ability remains, and discuss the nature of your job, your work environment, and the duties you perform. If the doctor believes that your hearing loss is work-related, he or she will fill out a workers’ compensation form so you can begin the process of filing your claim.
If you are being denied workers’ compensation for hearing loss, our attorneys can examine the facts of your case and get you the benefits you deserve. Contact us online or call us directly at (800) 362-9329 to speak with a construction injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.
How does NY Labor Law 200 apply to my construction injury case?
New York has many different labor laws to protect construction workers from severe injury and death. Under Labor Law 200, property owners and contractors are required to provide employees with a reasonably safe workplace. If the owner is in violation of the section, the state may impose fines and the injured employee could have grounds to file an injury lawsuit.
Provisions of NY Labor Law 200 for Construction Employees
Labor Law 200 requires that all areas of a worksite be “constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted” in a way that will make the worksite as safe as possible for employees and visitors. The law has specific instructions regarding:
All machinery must be placed in a way that minimizes injury to workers, operated according to safe practices, and equipped with adequate safety guards. If the building commissioner posts a notice identifying a problem with a piece of machinery, the machinery may not be used until the dangerous condition is corrected. The owner must contact the commissioner for re-inspection and re-inspection must be completed before the notice may be removed.
Work areas must have adequate lighting in order to prevent trips or falls, and machinery must be lighted to allow workers to see active parts of the equipment.
Sanitation and Health
Contractors and owners should provide the employees with safe restroom facilities and access to first aid on site.
Owners should follow construction regulations to ensure that all elevators and escalators have been installed and are operating correctly.
Radiation and Fire Response
Sites should have adequate fire suppression systems, as well as radiation detection, to protect workers from industrial radiation.
Every worksite should have at least the minimum number of exits required to evacuate the worksite quickly.
If your construction injury was caused by a violation of this section or another unsafe condition on a construction site, we can help. Our attorneys will investigate who may be at fault for the accident, allowing you to get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a construction injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible.
Are there OSHA regulations to protect construction workers from chemical burns?
Millions of construction employees are at risk of severe or fatal injuries every day across the U.S., including the potential for dangerous exposure to chemicals. Working with paints, primers, adhesives, grouts, waterproofing agents, patching and leveling materials, coatings and sealants, lubricants, and cleaning formulas all place workers at risk of injury, including:
- Chemical burns. A caustic agent on a worker’s skin can cause a burn that requires grafting and results in permanent scarring.
- Blindness. Industrial agents can cause temporary or lifelong blindness if they enter a worker’s eye.
- Respiratory problems. In enclosed areas without proper ventilation, chemicals can push out breathable air and cause asphyxia or lung damage.
- Fires and explosions. Both the fumes and liquid forms of many industrial solvents are highly flammable, posing a risk of thermal burns or explosion.
OSHA Regulations Protect Construction Workers From Chemical Burns
In an effort to control the risks of chemical exposure, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all chemical manufacturers and distributors provide Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each chemical used on job sites. The SDS must be accessible to all employees, and all employees should be trained on how to use them.
Information required in Safety Data Sheets include:
- The properties of each chemical
- Manufacturer's instructions for the safe handling of the material
- All physical, health, and environmental hazards of the material
- Proper protective measures for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical
OSHA also requires employers to train employees about the risks of each hazardous chemical, have a written spill control plan and provide spill clean-up kits in storage areas, train employees on proper clean-up and disposal of chemical materials, and provide and enforce the use of proper personal protective equipment.
If you were injured at your construction site by a chemical, there is a good chance your employer could have done more to prevent it. The New York construction accident attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can examine the facts of your case and get you the maximum amount of compensation you are owed for your medical treatment and the lost ability to earn a living. Contact us online or call us directly at (800) 362-9329 today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Compensation for Cold Stress Injuries on New York City Construction Sites
Construction employees working on roofs, bridges, and high buildings may be painfully aware of the dangers of work at height. However, employees open to the elements are also at risk of an overlooked physical danger—cold. Hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold stress injuries may have temporary effects on construction workers or result in permanent damage, including death.
Who Is at Fault When New York City Construction Workers Suffer Cold Injuries?
Due to the changing nature of work environments required in construction, cold injuries are not just a danger in winter—and they do not just happen at height. Many are caused indoors in artificially refrigerated areas, during heavy rains in spring, or due to the handling of cold tools without gloves.
You may have a construction accident injury claim if your employer did not execute adequate safety measures for working in the cold, such as:
- Failing to provide proper protection. High winds and low temperatures can cause exposed layers of skin tissue to freeze, resulting in frostbite that could require amputation. Wearing insulated boots and insulated gloves can help prevent frostbite caused by exposure to cold or handling metal tools. Employers should also require head coverings (such as hoods and caps) under hard hats to increase body temperature.
- Requiring break periods. Workers can suffer cold injuries even at moderate temperatures if they work in them for long periods of time. Employers should consider both the temperature and the length of time spent in the environment, and ensure that workers to take breaks indoors or in heated shelters to warm up between tasks.
- Accounting for all factors. The temperature is only one factor in determining the risk of hypothermia. High winds can cause a person’s body to lose heat more quickly, and exposure to water (from rain or snow) or damp clothing places a worker at even higher risk.
- Failing to train employees. Employees should be properly trained on how to work in the cold, how to recognize the signs of hypothermia and frostbite in coworkers, and what actions to take if a worker begins shivering, slurs his speech, or loses coordination.
If you have suffered an injury on the job, our New York construction accident lawyers can explain your legal options at no cost to you. Simply fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Is my employer required to provide personal protective equipment if I work on a New York City construction site?
Both New York state laws and federal regulations require construction employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize their exposure to workplace hazards. Common PPE items include work gloves, hard hats, respirators, safety glasses, earplugs or muffs, and high-visibility vests. Unfortunately, many cases of blindness, occupational disease, and chemical burn injuries from construction have resulted from an employer’s failure to ensure that an employee was protected by proper personal protective equipment.
Employers Have a Duty to Provide Personal Protective Equipment to Construction Workers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clear regulations regarding PPE in the construction industry, as well as the employer’s duty to provide PPE to its workers. OSHA requires that all PPE provided by the employer should be of safe design and construction, should be in a clean and working condition, and should be used for any activity that has an identified risk of injury. In addition, employers are required to train each worker on the use of all PPE—including identifying when each item is necessary, how to properly wear the equipment, and how to maintain and dispose of the equipment. Finally, the employer must pay for required PPE and pay to replace PPE that has been damaged or no longer meets safety standards.
The only PPE items an employer is not required to pay for include:
- Normal work boots, safety-toe protective footwear, rubber boots, or street shoes suitable for the job site
- Everyday clothing that provides required injury protection (such as long-sleeved shirts or long pants)
- Prescription safety glasses or sunglasses
- Skin creams, standard sunglasses, sunscreen, or other items used solely for protection from sun damage
- Everyday weather protection such as winter coats, jackets, parkas, non-work gloves, raincoats, or hats
It is worth noting that even if an employer is not required to provide certain personal PPE items, the employer is still responsible for assessing the adequacy of each item. For example, an employee who is wearing work boots that fail to protect his toes from a crush injury may be able to hold the employer liable for failing to check the quality of the boots.
Workers who are hurt on the job due to improper PPE may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. If you have questions about your accident, the experienced New York City construction accident lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help. Please contact us online or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.