Motor vehicles are just one of the many risks of working on New York City construction sites. From passenger cars to trucks and heavy machinery, workers are constantly in the path of hazardous equipment—and the longer you work, the more likely you are to be involved in a collision. When these types of injuries occur, it is important that you know your rights and take quick action for your physical and financial losses.
Common Causes of Construction Motor Vehicle Crashes
Workers at a construction site can be injured by trucks and other vehicles while driving, becoming pinned between a vehicle and an object, becoming entangled or crushed beneath tires or overturned vehicles, or in a variety of other ways. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an average of 50 workers per year are killed as vehicles back over them, making backover accidents a common cause of construction worker fatalities.
In many cases, someone other than the employee is liable for causing the accident. The underlying causes of a majority of accidents include:
Maintenance problems. Employers and site owners are required to perform regular maintenance and safety inspections on their vehicles, and failure to do so can constitute negligence. All machinery is required to adhere to OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, including equipping all vehicles with windshields and powered wipers, ensuring prompt replacement of cracked and broken glass, and securing tools and materials that travel in vehicles with employees.
Vehicle defects. Construction vehicles are required to have operational safety equipment, including firmly secured seats, adequate seat belts, emergency brakes, backup signals and lights, and rollover guards. If any equipment is missing safety equipment or malfunctions during a crash, the manufacturer may be liable for injury costs.
Site defects. OSHA requires the ground to be stable and level on job sites requiring motor vehicle operation. In addition, workers should be protected from environmental hazards—such as gas leaks, mudslides, ice buildup, and electrical hazards—that may increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents or make crash injuries worse.
Passing traffic. Road construction fatalities are overwhelmingly caused by a passing car or truck striking a worker. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), over 100 workers are killed and over 20,000 workers every year are injured in construction struck-by accidents, many of whom are hurt by equipment involved in the project.
Who May Be Liable for a Construction Site Crash?
Workers who are injured in construction site crashes are eligible for compensation for their injuries, but payments often depend on the facts of the case. Your work injury attorney should pay careful attention when determining fault, as these actions can involve:
Scope of employment. Employers will only provide workers’ compensation benefits if a vehicle accident is work-related. While a worker who is injured while driving a company vehicle to a delivery site may be covered, the same worker may not be covered if he was in a crash while on his lunch break.
Workers’ compensation benefits. If the collision is found to be work-related, the employee will most likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation system provides benefits regardless of fault, but only pays for income loss and injury costs (no pain and suffering damages are paid).
A third-party. If someone other than the employer is responsible for the injury, a worker may file a lawsuit against the negligent third party. Examples of third-party negligence include the fleet operator of a worn or damaged vehicle, a property owner whose unsafe work site conditions caused the crash, a distracted driver who struck a worker, or the actions of another company’s employee. The advantage to filing a third-party lawsuit is that victims may sue for pain and suffering damages, allowing the individual to get full and fair payment for the crash.
If you have suffered due to a vehicle accident on a construction site, the experienced New York injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can explain your options at no cost to you. Simply contact us online or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.