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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  • Can I sue my employer for a construction injury?

    New York City Construction Worker on a High BeamUnder 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
    • Death

    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?

    Construction Crane in New York City

    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:

    Faulty Installation 

    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.

    Manufacturer Defects

    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?

    Workers' Compensation and Occupational Hearing Loss

    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?

    Construction Workers and NY Labor Law 200 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:

    Equipment Safety

    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.

    Lighting 

    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.

    Vertical Transportation

    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.

    Exits 

    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?

    New York Construction Workers and Chemical BurnsMillions 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

    Cold Weather Injuries and New York Construction SitesConstruction 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?

    Personal Protective Equipment and New York Construction WorkersBoth 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.

     

  • How do I report a safety violation on a New York City construction site?

    Unsafe Conditions on NYC Construction SitesThe City of New York allows both employees and members of the public to report safety violations on construction sites. The Department of Buildings responds to issues ranging from excessive noise complaints to failure to install netting to prevent construction fall injuries, while federal agencies may be asked to respond to safety allegations made by construction employees.

    Reporting Unsafe Conditions on New York City Construction Sites

    If you are considering making a complaint, you should know that your decision to do so is protected under the law. Not only can your intervention make the workplace safer, but there are laws in place to prevent an employer from discriminating against you for making a safety complaint.

    If you know of a safety violation on a construction site, you may make a report to the:

    • NYC Department of Buildings online. Workers and members of the public can report NYC building construction problems online if they witness construction projects involving excessive debris, buildings being constructed against approved plans, work without a permit, or construction performed on weekends or on weekdays before 7 AM or after 6 PM.
       
    • NYC Department of Buildings hotline. People are urged to call 311 for immediate reporting of building or construction problems involving unsafe conditions for the construction workers, lack of fencing or netting to protect neighboring properties from the effects of construction, or debris that has fallen or is in danger of falling.
       
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employees have the right to notify the federal government of any safety violations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Workers can file a complaint online or by mail to request an OSHA inspection of their workplace, or if the condition poses an immediate emergency, workers should call 1-800-321-6742. Since OSHA can only issue citations for violations that occurred in the past six months, employees are encouraged to make complaints as soon as possible. If you include your name on the complaint, OSHA will keep your information confidential from your employer.

    If you are facing retaliation after reporting an unsafe condition, the experienced New York City construction injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help. Please contact us online or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.

     

  • Can I be fired for being a whistleblower?

    Whistleblowers in New York ConstructionIf your construction site has any safety concerns that could cause serious or fatal construction injuries, it is your duty to report these conditions immediately. All workers are given the right to a safe workplace by federal law—and this law also protects workers who report unsafe conditions from retaliation.

    Construction Workers Are Protected When Reporting Safety Violations

    Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that employers are forbidden from taking any adverse action against any employee who reports a safety violation to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Workers also cannot be discriminated against if they request an OSHA inspection, testify in an OSHA proceeding involving the employer, or even for reporting the conditions to their employers.

    Adverse actions do not just include the firing of an employee, but other forms of retaliation such as:

    • Reducing a worker’s pay
    • Giving a worker fewer hours
    • Laying off workers
    • Reassigning a worker to a different site or location
    • Blacklisting an employee
    • Demoting a worker with no other cause
    • Failing to pay overtime
    • Denying an earned promotion
    • Taking disciplinary action
    • Denying rightful benefits
    • Failure to hire or rehire a worker who reported a violation
    • Threatening, intimidating, or otherwise harassing an employee

    Free Info: Maximize Your Recovery After A Construction Accident

    If an employee has been terminated, laid off, or otherwise retaliated against as a result of reporting safety concerns, there are protocols in place for compensation. Firstly, the employee must file a complaint with OSHA describing the adverse action within 30 days of the action. Then, the Department of Labor will perform an investigation into the complaint. If there is a violation, the employer may be charged with labor violations in U.S. district court. Finally, the employer may be ordered to redress the action, including reinstating the employee to full employment with back pay.

    It is important to speak up if you notice safety violations at work, and you should be confident in doing so. If you’ve been hurt on a New York City construction site, the experienced construction injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you hold the negligent party responsible for your lost income, medical care, permanent disability, and pain and suffering. Please contact us online or call us directly at 800.362.9329 to schedule your free initial consultation.

  • Can people under the age of 18 work on New York City construction sites?

    Construction Site Laws and Minors in New YorkNew York has strict rules concerning what workers under the age of 18 may do on construction sites. For instance, minors are prohibited from working or assisting in operations that involve roofing, demolition, excavating, sawing, shearing, and power-driven woodworking and metalworking. They also cannot clean, oil, or adjust belts on construction machinery, be exposed to dust from the manufacture of brick or tile, or perform painting and cleaning on an elevated surface. However, there may be some exceptions to these rules for certain kinds of underage employees in order to help prevent construction accidents.

    Exceptions to NY Construction Site Laws Regarding Minors

    If certain conditions are met, some underage workers may perform the above tasks. For example, these rules may not apply to 16 or 17-year-olds who are:

    • Apprentices. Apprenticeship allows workers to learn a skill or trade through on-the-job training. In order for an underage apprentice to perform any of the usually-prohibited activities, he or she must be in an approved program through the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), have a written contract with the employer, and be under the supervision of an experienced journey worker.

    • Students. Many students opt to learn construction trades through vocational training programs. Students who are completing an educational degree program may perform restricted maneuvers as part of their on-the-job training.

    • Trainees. Workers who have completed courses in an approved on-the-job training program through a public school or a non-profit institution and are at least 16 years old may perform some of the work normally prohibited as long as they have also received DOL-approved safety instruction.

    Even if underage workers can legally perform dangerous work, safety standards must be met at all times to reduce the risk of injury. If you were under 18 years old when you were hurt on construction site you need to speak with an experienced work injury attorney as soon as possible. the New York and New Jersey injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can advise you of your rights. Contact us online or call us directly at 800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.