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Legal Issues in Fatal Construction Workers' Accidents

Does the Family of Killed Construction Worker Abbas Behnam-Bakhsh Have a Legal Remedy?

The senseless death of construction worker Abbas Behnam-Bakhsh has been chronicled over the last ten days in this blog. Mr. Behnam-Bakhsh, a 55 year-old project engineer, was crushed to death by a steel pipe that fell from a forklift at a Governor's Island job site this July. In this piece, the construction accident attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy will discuss whether the family of Mr. Behnam-Bakhsh has a legal remedy. Is there a law in New York that will allow them to be compensated for this senseless killing? The answer is yes, but the laws are complicated and require an experienced construction accident lawyer that is familiar with how best to navigate the intricacies of New York's Labor Law §240 as well as the laws that apply to 'Wrongful Death.' Some details about the tragic accident will help our analysis.

The accident occurred at 8:26 am on the southern portion of the island near the ferry terminal where the workers were rebuilding sections of the sea wall. Abbas Behnam-Bakhsh, of Staten Island, was part of a construction crew removing the sewer pipes, which are 15 feet long with a diameter of 24 inches and weighing approximately 6,000 pounds. Mr. Behnam-Bakhsh was standing below the front-end loader as pipes were being off-loaded in pairs. At some point, the straps holding the pipes in place snapped and one of the pipes fell on top of him, tragically killing him.

Labor Law § 240(1) is a law that protects construction workers. This law squarely fits the facts of the Behnam-Bakhsh tragedy. The law applies to both "falling worker" and "falling object" construction site accidents. This case obviously comes under the "falling object" category. Simply put, to prevail, there must be proof that an object fell during construction work because it was not safely hoisted or secured during the work and that this failure was a legal cause of the accident. Since the straps seem to have snapped, i.e. they failed in properly securing the pipes during the work, there is a strong chance that the family would be successful. The amount of compensation they recover for their loss will largely depend on the skills of the lawyers representing them.

Any case where someone has died requires an experienced attorney that is capable of delivering the right result for a family. The family should be consulting with an attorney that has an expertise in helping construction workers and someone who has handled wrongful death cases with some regularity. The serious accident attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy, LLP have unparalleled experience and expertise in construction accident cases and wrongful death actions. Our trial attorneys work hard to ensure that the victims and their families of these horrible tragedies recover to the fullest extent possible under the law. Our verdicts and settlements have been bringing comfort to the families of injured workers for decades. If you want a free consultation with the experienced New York construction accident lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy, please call us at 212.736.5300. To learn more about the firm, go to the firm website at

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