New York City Scaffolding Accident Lawyers

Attorneys with Top Verdicts and Settlements in New York Scaffold Accident Cases

Working with heavy equipment and building materials on the limited space of a scaffold can be both difficult and dangerous, as evidenced by the number of serious scaffold accidents that occur each year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that on average, scaffolding accidents result in 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths nationwide every year.

Serious accidents have severe repercussions for workers and their loved ones. A scaffold fall or other accident can result in traumatic brain injury, broken bones, herniated discs, spinal fractures, and other significant injuries. If you were hurt as a result of a scaffolding accident, it's important to learn your legal rights from attorneys skilled at litigating scaffold injury cases. The Law Firm of Block O'Toole & Murphy has one of the best records in recovering compensation for scaffold injury victims in New York State. Select results include:

  • $7,000,000 settlement for worker who was hurt while dismantling a scaffold at a construction site in Astoria, Queens
  • $6,000,000 settlement for a union worker who fell from a scaffold while performing caulking work in a Brooklyn construction project
  • $5,885,000 jury verdict for a 35-year-old worker who suffered arm and back injuries after a Baker rolling scaffold moved out from under him
  • $5,030,572 verdict for a laborer who sustained multiple herniated discs and knee injuries after a scaffold tip-over, causing him to fall approximately 25 feet

Year after year, our attorneys have recovered more results exceeding $1,000,000 than any other law firm in New York. In 2016 alone, Block O'Toole & Murphy secured 3 of the top 5 settlements in New York State for workers harmed on construction sites. To speak with a lawyer today, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form for a free legal consultation.

Types of Scaffolding Accidents

Scaffolding is a versatile piece of equipment that comes in a number of different varieties such as supported scaffolding, suspended scaffolding, aerial scaffolding and more. The versatility of scaffolding, however, means there are multiple ways that accidents can occur. Some of the most common causes of scaffold accidents are:

  • Scaffold collapse: Scaffolding is usually put up for a temporary purpose, which means scaffold construction can often be rushed, leading to scaffold collapse and worker injury.
  • Falls from scaffold: Falls usually occur when employees are not provided with adequate fall protection. Guardrails are almost always a requirement; for some types of scaffolds, such as a suspended scaffold, additional fall protection such as a body harness is also required.
  • Falling object accidents: OSHA mandates that scaffolds more than 10 feet above a lower level require toeboards. In addition, tools and materials should be secured, and workers below should always be wearing hardhats.
  • Electrocution: Large metal structures such as scaffolding will especially attract electricity. Scaffolds must be constructed at least 10 feet from any active power line.
  • Scaffold tip-overs: Supported scaffolds are only as stable as their foundation. Scaffolds should be constructed with base plates and mud sills beneath each leg to provide adequate support.

OSHA Regulations for Scaffolding Work

Falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers, which is why it's crucial for employers, contractors and site owners to take all necessary precautions to keep workers safe. OSHA mandates that any employee who is 10 feet above a lower level must be protected by either guardrails or a fall arrest system, depending on the type of scaffolding they are working from. Guardrail systems must be able to withstand at least 200 pounds of force and measure between 38 and 45 inches in height.

For some types of scaffolding, such as suspended scaffolds, guardrail systems are not sufficient and a fall arrest system may be necessary. OSHA defines a personal fall arrest system as a system used to halt the motion of an employee in a fall from a working level. Personal fall arrest systems include the following components:

  • Body Harness: The body harness is designed to minimize stress forces on a construction worker's body in the event of a fall from a scaffold, while providing sufficient freedom of movement to allow work to be performed.
  • Attachment Location: According to OSHA guidelines, the attachment of the body harness must be located in the center of the worker's back near the shoulder level, or above the head.
  • Vertical Lifeline/Lanyard: Vertical lifelines or lanyards must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds, and should be protected against being cut or abraded. Each employee working on the scaffold should be attached to a separate vertical lifeline. Two employees can be attached to the same lifeline during the construction of elevator shafts as long as both employees are working atop a false car that is equipped with guardrails and the strength of the lifeline is 10,000 pounds.
  • Horizontal Lifeline: A horizontal lifeline is a pliable line rigged in a horizontal plane and secured at each end to an anchorage. The worker is connected to the line using a personal fall arrest system that moves with the worker between the two anchorage points.
  • Anchorages: Anchorages are used for the attachment of personal fall arrest equipment. They must be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per employee attached and should be used under the supervision of a qualified individual.
  • Webbing: The webbing is the ropes and straps used in lifelines, lanyards, and strength components of body harnesses. It must be made from synthetic fibers.
  • Connectors: Personal fall arrest system connectors include D-rings and snaphooks. They must be made from drop-forged, pressed or formed steel, or equivalent materials and have a corrosion-resistant finish. They should also have smooth surfaces in order to prevent damage to connecting parts of the system. OSHA sets forth minimum strength requirements for D-rings and snaphooks.

Employees must also be properly trained before working on a scaffold. There are numerous hazards which employees can face while working on scaffolds, and if they are not adequately prepared for these dangers, catastrophic accidents and injuries could occur. This is especially true in the erection and dismantling of scaffolding, which is a highly specialized process in itself.

Scaffolding must also be regularly inspected to ensure it can safely be used by workers. OSHA mandates that scaffolding needs to be inspected by a qualified professional before and after each shift for any defects which may be present.

Legal Protection After a Scaffolding Accident

New York Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffold Law, protects workers by requiring employers, contractors and site owners to prevent gravity-related injuries by providing the proper safety equipment and training. This means that the Scaffold Law goes beyond scaffolding and covers all fall protection equipment, such as body harnesses, guardrails, vertical and horizontal lifeline systems, hoists and slings. The law may also cover workers who have been injured by a falling object or ladder fall - any injury which was caused by gravity, and a lack of adequate safety equipment or proper training.

In order to make a case under the Scaffold Law following a personal injury, two factors must be present. First, there must have been some type of safety violation. In regards to a scaffold accident, this could mean that a body harness was not provided, or that toeboards were not installed and a worker below was injured by a falling object. If the scaffolding collapsed, the company which erected the scaffolding may be responsible.

Next, it must be established that there is a causal relationship between the safety violation and the accident that occurred. This is why it's important to file an accident report with your employer to record the facts of the accident. Employers, contractors and other potential defendants may attempt to use the "sole proximate cause" defense, wherein they will try to show that adequate safety measures were provided, and that the worker is solely responsible for the injury they suffered due to their own neglect. Co-workers and other witnesses may also be able to provide valuable accounts of how an accident occurred.

Top Attorneys in Scaffold Injury Litigation

The construction accident attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy are well-known in their field for scaffold injury litigation and have recovered numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for clients harmed in scaffolding accidents. Our lawyers have been quoted in the New York Times, New York Law Journal, New York Post, and other media outlets on the particulars of Labor Law in New York. They have also been published in legal journals on litigation regarding New York Labor Laws. For instance, a New York Law Journal piece by Partners David Scher and Daniel O'Toole examines recent Scaffold Law rulings to better understand how the law has been applied in the past, and how it may be applied going forward.

If you have been a victim of a scaffolding accident, our attorneys provide compassionate and skilled litigation to help workers find justice and receive compensation for their damages. Notable case results include:

  • $7,000,000 settlement for a Queens worker who suffered multiple neck injuries after a scaffolding accident and required a cervical spinal cord stimulator
  • $6,000,000 settlement for a union waterproofer who required two-level spinal fusion surgery at L4/5 and L5/S1 after an exterior scaffolding accident in Brooklyn
  • $5,885,000 jury verdict for an undocumented worker who required spinal fusion surgery after a scaffolding fall at a demolition site in Queens
  • $5,030,572 jury verdict for a 31-year-old worker who suffered multiple herniated discs when the scaffold he was working on tipped over
  • $5,000,000 jury verdict for a carpenter who fell off a scaffold during a Brooklyn building renovation project, requiring multiple surgeries
  • $3,700,000 settlement for a worker who fell due to unsecure scaffold planks while he was trying to remove asbestos from the ceiling of a school in Brooklyn
  • $3,500,000 settlement for a union carpenter struck by a metal beam during the erection of a scaffold, causing injuries to his head
  • $3,411,000 settlement for a building superintendent who was struck by a brick that had fallen from a spider scaffold 9 stories above him
  • $3,400,000 settlement for a union carpenter who fell from a pipe scaffolding with no safety railings 12-14 feet down to the concrete floor below
  • $3,000,000 settlement for a worker who was injured in a scaffold collapse at a renovation project in Manhattan, causing torn knee ligaments and a herniated disc
  • $2,650,000 settlement for a construction vehicle driver who suffered back injuries and a SLAP tear in his right shoulder after a scaffolding accident in the Bronx
  • $2,640,000 settlement for a non-union construction worker who was injured by a falling object when unsecured pipe scaffolding began to sway
  • $2,600,000 settlement for a 60-year-old worker who suffered serious knee and shoulder injuries after an accident which occurred while dismantling scaffolding
  • $2,200,000 recovery for a worker who suffered severe shoulder and back injuries while assembling a scaffold at a demolition site in Brooklyn
  • $2,000,000 settlement for a masonry worker who required arthroscopic ankle surgery after the scaffold plank he was standing on gave way
  • $1,750,000 settlement for a worker who fell off a ladder which was on top of an unsteady Bake rolling scaffold at a construction site in Queens
  • $1,475,000 settlement for a laborer who sustained neck and back injuries after falling from a poorly-constructed scaffold when the bracing he was standing on came loose
  • $1,400,000 settlement for a 69-year-old asbestos handler who fell from a scaffold which had no guardrails at a high school in Rochester, New York

Call us today at 212-736-5300 - we serve all of New York State, including Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Long Island and New York City.