NYC Construction Accident Lawyers on Your Side
Top Results in New York Construction Accident Lawsuits
Construction accident cases require handling by a law firm that specializes in this area of law, like Block O’Toole & Murphy. Our firm is well known around New York State for frequently returning record-setting, multi-million dollar results in construction accident cases. Our firm is also a legal authority in this area, which involves numerous statutes and a body of case law that is complex and constantly evolving. We regularly argue construction accidents cases in the appellate courts and our attorneys lecture other attorneys and publish scholarly articles on topics related to construction accident law. We also have attorneys serving on the Labor Law Committee of NYSTLA, including our Partner Daniel P. O’Toole who is the co-chairman; a committee that fights for the laws that protect the safety of workers in our State.
We also know what’s at stake when someone asks our law firm to represent them legally after a serious construction accident. We have seen the physical and emotional devastation that can occur after a work injury; the pain, limitations, piling up medical bills and stress of being disabled, among other struggles. That’s why our lawyers have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of hardworking women and men who suffered an injury while they were simply doing their job – and their families – and it shows in our results. Since 2012, no other law firm has achieved more top results exceeding one million dollars than Block O’Toole & Murphy. We attained well over 100 results exceeding $1,000,000 for those injured in construction site accidents, including $110 million and $53.5 million jury verdicts. In total, we’ve recovered nearly two billion dollars for accident victims.
If you’ve been hurt in a construction accident, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form for a FREE legal consultation with a construction accident lawyer at Block O’Toole & Murphy. We serve all New York State, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester County and upstate New York.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Laws Protecting Construction Workers in New York State
- Construction Work Hazards
- Construction Accident Case FAQ
- What should I do if I have been in a construction accident?
- What kinds of construction accident cases does your firm handle?
- What kinds of injuries would allow me to bring a lawsuit?
- Who is responsible for my construction accident?
- What kind of compensation is available to me?
- Am I still able to bring a claim if I am receiving workers’ compensation?
- If I was injured on a construction site but am not a worker, do I still have a case?
- How long do I have to bring my construction accident case?
- Advancements in Criminal Charges for Construction Accidents
- Top Case Results for Those Injured in Construction Accidents
New York has various protections in place for construction workers. In addition to New York Labor Laws, the New York Division of Health and Safety (within the Department of Labor) has jurisdiction over various Industrial Code Rules. Both are meant to help protect workers and minimize accidents. If you are injured in a construction accident, these rules can demonstrate that you have a valid claim. Below is some general information on the New York Labor Laws and Industrial Codes that protect construction workers.
This section of New York Labor Law stipulates that a safe work environment must be provided for employees. It states that all applicable work sites must “be so constructed, equipped, arranged, operated, and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.” The same applies to all machinery or equipment used on the site; it must be placed and operated so that anyone operating it or near it is safe from harm.
Our firm is very familiar with this Labor Law Section and we file several lawsuits each year for injured workers alleging that its violation was a cause of our client’s injuries. Only a law firm with deep experience handling Labor Law 200 cases can properly handle your case. Proving a Section 200 case requires establishing that the worker’s injury was either caused by: 1) a dangerous worksite condition of which the owner or general contractor was on prior notice, or 2) a dangerous means and method of work where the general contractor or owner was directing or controlling the work at issue.
The first key to success is understanding the legal standards themselves, which continue to develop over time as the courts issue new decisions. Our attorneys are well versed in the law and constantly educate ourselves to stay on top of any new precedents. The second key is knowing how to discover and develop the proofs necessary to support a Labor Law 200 claim. This can only be effectively done with significant experience and expertise. Block O’Toole & Murphy’s attorneys are keenly aware of how to undercover critical evidence through demand the right documents and taking depositions of key witnesses; without knowing the right questions to ask you will never get the answers needed to establish potentially necessary elements such as a contractor’s prior knowledge of a dangerous site condition or supervision of a worker.
Once a violation of Labor Law 200 is established, a defendant may still claim the worker was also negligent and contributed to the happening of his/her accident. As such, the attorneys at our firm work hard to uncover proofs and develop arguments to counter any potential defense claims that our client was at fault. Again, this can only be done effectively by a firm, like ours, that has decades of experience handling serious Labor Law 200 cases.
Labor Law Section 240, commonly known as the Scaffold Law, is meant to protect workers who work in construction at heights. The law intends to hold specific parties responsible for failing to provide these construction workers with a safe place to do their job. The law also generally protects workers from falling objects at a construction site. Contractors or owners are required by law to provide and place adequate protection for workers who are exposed to to risk of falling or being struck by a falling object.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is known as an authority in handling Labor Law 240 cases. Our attorneys routinely settle Section 240 cases for millions of dollars. In addition, our lawyers lecture other attorneys throughout the State on legal issues related to Section 240. For example, Partner David L. Scher lectures annually to a large group of lawyers around the State about how to best frame, plead and handle a Labor Law 240 case. On top of that, Partner Daniel P. O’Toole is a co-chairman of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association’s Labor Law Committee, which strives to protect this critical worker-safety law.
If you have been hurt on the workplace as a result of a fall or a falling object, you should know that Labor Law 240 will likely apply to protect you if you were working on a construction, renovation of demolition project. But, Labor Law 240 also applies to other types of non-construction work. If your injury-producing work involved ‘alteration’ – defined as making a significant physical change to a building or structure – you too may be covered by Section 240, even if your work had nothing to do with construction. For example, adding extension posts to a structure that holds billboards has been held by the Courts to be a covered Labor Law activity. Labor Law 240 also applies to certain types of repair work, including replacing parts of a unit or system such as an HVAC unit or light fixture that do not routinely wear or burn out. The law also covers gravity-related accidents suffered while performing commercial cleaning or commercial painting work.
Every fact pattern is specific and every rule has an exception. The law around Labor Law 240 is often very complex and can change when a new appellate court decision comes down. This is why hiring a law firm with a deep knowledge of Labor Law 240 like Block O’Toole & Murphy is so very important. If you were hurt in an accident involving a fall from a height or a falling object, reach out to our firm right away to learn whether you might have a valid claim under this Statute.
Once a violation of Section 240 is established to be a cause of your accident, the site owner and/or general contractor will be liable for your resulting injuries by operation of law, regardless of whether those entities actually directly participated in causing your accident. In other words, if the proofs establish that you were not provided proper protection against the risk of falling or the risk of being struck by a falling object, the Section has been violated. The reason for this Statute’s existence is the recognition by the legislature and the Courts that site safety must ultimately be the responsibility of the companies in a position to actually insure and demand safe practices, which is the owner and general contractor, and that workers are often powerless and unable to insist on a safe site.
If and when a violation of Section 240 is proven, then the defendant (owner or contractor) will have the burden of trying to demonstrate that the worker was the sole proximate cause of his/her accident. This case be done if evidence exists that the worker disobeyed an immediate and specific safety instruction (was ‘recalcitrant’), or that the worker misused an available safety device for no good reason; and that action or inaction was the sole cause of the resulting injury. Again, these defenses can be quite complicated and understanding how to rebut and overcome them requires a law firm who regularly handles Labor Law 240 cases; who knows the law and the facts up and down and how to argue them effectively.
Labor Law Section 241(6) requires contractors and others in charge of a work site to ensure workers are protected from all potential hazards. It states that all areas in which construction, excavation, or demolition is being done must be equipped and guarded to provide “reasonable and adequate protection and safety” to the employees or others in the area.
If a violation of Labor Law 241(6) is found to exist and be a cause of your injury, then you can recover damages from the owner and/or general contractor of the project. Just as for Labor Law 240, those entities are liable for your injuries regardless of whether they were actively negligent; it is their status as the companies in control of the site that confer the duty to ensure compliance with the law. The Courts have interpreted Section 241(6) to require proof that a violation of the New York State Industrial Code was committed. More than that, a Plaintiff pursuing a 241(6) claim must be able to identify a Code that is “specific”, “concrete” in its mandate; merely general provisions of the Code will not suffice. For example, Industrial Code Section 23-1.21(b)(4)(iv) requires that:
“When work is being performed from ladder rungs between six and 10 feet above the ladder footing, a leaning ladder shall be held in place by a person stationed at the foot of such ladder unless the upper end of such ladder is secured against side slip by its position or by mechanical means…”
So, if you were working on a leaning (extension) ladder during a construction project, standing on the 8th rung up from the ground, the ladder was unsecured and tipped and fell over, causing you to fall and become injured, you would have a valid Labor Law 241(6) claim because the above sub-section of the Industrial was violated and was a cause of your injury.
Also important to note is that once a violation of Labor Law 241(6) is established, the Defendant does have the right to claim and argue that the worker also contributed to his/her accident by being negligent. Ultimately, if a defendant has sufficient facts to support such a claim against the plaintiff, a jury will determine the relative fault between the Plaintiff and Defendant.
Again, handling a Labor Law 241(6) case requires the skill and experience of the right law firm. The Industrial Code, and the cases interpreting it, are complex and ever-evolving. At Block O’Toole & Murphy, we make it a point to stay educated and up-to-date on all developments in this area of law, so that we can best fight for your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
As discussed above, the New York State Industrial Code, Part 23, covers Protection in Construction, Demolition, and Excavation Operations. The Code covers requirements for all aspects of construction work, including protection from general hazards, flooring requirements during construction, and provisions for scaffolding, in addition to much more. The codes lay out standards for running a safe construction site in New York; if they are not followed, accidents may occur, and the responsible party may be held accountable under the law.
Construction is a hazardous industry; so much so that the top four causes of construction fatalities have become commonly known as the “Fatal Four”: Falls, Struck-By, Electrocution, and Caught-In/Between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Fatal Four were responsible for more than half of construction worker deaths in 2018. If the Fatal Four were eliminated, it would save close to 600 workers’ lives in America every year. More information on these hazards is below:
The most frequent hazard of the Fatal Four, falls accounted for 33.5% of all construction-related deaths in 2018. Workers can fall from ladders, roofs, and scaffolding, or through temporary flooring, which is why proper safety procedures must be strictly adhered to. Unfortunately, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2019, the safety standard that was most frequently violated was fall protection. Employers need to provide fall protection for workers and ensure proper equipment condition and use.
When a worker is struck by an object, whether the object is a flying rock from a construction site blast or a falling piece of debris from above, the accident can have serious long-term effects. The speed and weight with which a falling, flying, swinging, or rolling object strikes a worker can result in catastrophic and lifelong injuries or death. OSHA recommends that workers take care to never position themselves between moving and fixed objects and to wear highly visible clothing to avoid being struck by an object.
Electrical accidents can result in dangerous site explosions, fires, and blasts. Employees may also be electrocuted or shocked when exposed to power lines and other types of energized sources. Depending on the voltage and severity of the accident, a worker’s injuries can be life-threatening.
If the proper safety precautions are not taken, workers can quickly become victims of collapsed trenches or caught between heavy machinery such as cranes or forklifts. Proper protocol must be followed when handling machinery or when undergoing excavation work to avoid these terrible accidents.
Both New York Labor Laws and OSHA’s safety guidelines are meant to ensure workplace safety for construction laborers. Site contractors and subcontractors are required to follow these guidelines. If they do not, preventable accidents may occur, causing needless tragedies.
If you have been injured in a construction accident or know someone who has, you likely have many questions. Below are answers to the most common questions we hear from plaintiffs and their loved ones in the aftermath of a construction accident. If your question is not answered below, our construction accident attorneys are available to speak with you further; call 212-736-5300.
In the aftermath of a construction accident, the first step is always to get medical attention if you feel like you have been injured. Even if you do not feel like you are severely injured, it is best to play it safe and get to an Emergency Room and have a doctor examine you. This is because some injuries, such as concussions or spine injuries, may take longer to show symptoms, so you will not feel their effects immediately after the accident. Additionally, having a doctor examine you will start a record of your injuries and subsequent care, which can be useful in some contexts.
You should also always report the accident to your employer, so they can have it on record (and also as a first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim). It may also be helpful, if you are able, to take pictures of the accident site, especially if there is debris or remnants of a broken part that contributed to the accident and would be relevant to a case. If you are able, collect names and phone numbers of anyone who may have witnessed your accident. All of these initial steps can become crucial later on when trying to prove your case. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous employers and contractors try to cover up accidents or hide or alter evidence in an effort to protect themselves. This reinforces why making a clear report of your accident and taking the above steps is so important.
Once you have seen a doctor and established a plan of care, you should consider filing a workers’ compensation claim and/or a third-party negligence (personal injury) claim, if applicable to your case. A workers’ compensation claim can be filed regardless of whether or not negligence contributed to your accident; if you have been injured in the course of performing your job duties, then you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits can include paying for related medical expenses and providing wages while you are disabled from work. Although you can file the claim yourself, it is highly recommended to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to help you submit a claim. It is important to remember that you only have 30 days post-accident to notify your employer of the accident, which is a necessary step in filing your claim. Block O’Toole & Murphy works with the best Workers Compensation attorneys in New York State, and we can make a referral to make the process as smooth as possible.
Regardless of whether or not you receive workers’ compensation benefits, it is possible you can also bring a personal injury claim, depending on the details of your case. If someone else’s negligence, such as the general contractor of the construction site, contributed to causing your accident, you may be able to bring a negligence claim against him. As discussed above, there are many Labor Laws in New York State that also may work to impose liability and allow you to recover money damages for your injuries. If you have been injured in any sort of workplace accident, it is in your best interest to contact a construction accident lawyer right away, who can consider all the details of your case and determine the best course of action. This consultation with Block O’Toole & Murphy is completely free of charge and requires no commitment on your part.
The law firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy handles all kinds of construction and other workplace accident cases, including construction site falls, ladder accidents, demolition accidents, falling object accidents, scaffolding accidents, trip/slip and falls, electric shocks, and accidents caused by defective equipment, to name just a few. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence on a construction site or by any unsafe condition, we are ready to discuss your case with you.
Almost any injury that occurs on a construction site in the course of your employment would likely allow you to at least file a workers’ compensation claim. Injuries resulting from construction site accidents can range from minor to catastrophic, due to the amount of risk working in construction entails. Injuries from construction sites can include, but are not limited to:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Paralysis or other spinal cord injuries
- Crush injuries
- Internal injuries
- Blindness or hearing loss
- Broken bones
- Skin injuries
- Back injuries
- Joint damage
- Emotional trauma, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Multiple parties can be held liable for a construction accident, including the contractor, subcontractor, construction site owner, property developer, engineers, equipment manufacturer, or another party involved in the construction project. For example, if you were working on a scaffold that collapsed and became injured, it is possible both the manufacturer of the scaffold, the contractor in charge of the site and the owner of the site could be found liable.
When filing a construction accident lawsuit, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of New York Labor Laws and the complexities of the construction industry, as it ultimately impacts how much you may receive for your injuries.
If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, the benefits you can receive are limited to:
- Coverage for your medical care
- Rehabilitation benefits if you require physical therapy or a similar service to be able to return to work
- Potential disability benefits if the injury has left you disabled or unable to return to work
- Death benefits for the surviving family if the work-related injury leads to death
A construction accident can affect your life in many ways, aside from your injuries and medical care. If you choose to bring a third-party claim as well, damages you may be able to make a claim for include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses, if it is a wrongful death case
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of income, from being unable to return to work because of your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
Compensation in personal injury cases is meant to make the injured person “whole” again, or return them, as closely as possible, to their normal state from before the accident. This is what will be considered when evaluating what damages you can claim and potentially receive compensation for.
Yes. Although every case varies, it is possible to bring a third-party claim against someone other than your employer who may be partially responsible for your accident, such as the contractor or owner of the site.
Yes. Anyone injured on a construction site due to someone else’s negligence, regardless of whether or not they are a worker, may be able to bring a claim against the negligent parties.
Typically, construction accident cases fall under the category of personal injury, which means you have three years from the date of accident to file your claim. But there are exceptions to that rule, including in the event of a death or if the injury was to a minor or person with a disability. It is also best to consult a lawyer right away who can analyze your specific case.
If, however, you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, you generally only have 30 days to do so.
In New York, our civil justice system is designed to determine whether an individual or company is legally responsible for the injuries of another person. In part, the system seeks to compensate a Plaintiff, the individual or entity responsible for bringing the lawsuit, with monetary damages, paid by a defendant or defendants. This form of civil justice is distinct from criminal justice in that defendants never go to jail after a verdict. Therefore, the deterrent (or “civil remedy”) is mostly financial, as opposed to in a criminal case, where consequences may include lengthy stints in prison.
When considering penalties against bad actors in construction accidents, there is reason to believe that financial consequences do not suffice. Worksite injuries at a construction site have the potential to cause irreparable harm, even death. Nevertheless, the sole remedy pursued thus far has been a civil suit.
Construction is still on the rise in New York. Increased construction activity—including a significant increase in building permits, according to a report recently released by the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB)—has led to more construction accidents and injuries. Even more damning, the DOB reported a three-year high in construction deaths in 2022.
Recently, some local District Attorneys’ Offices have established separate bureaus to investigate and prosecute construction accidents as potential criminal cases. Most prominently, these bureaus within the Brooklyn and Manhattan District Attorneys’ Offices have successfully brought criminal cases against wrongdoers at construction sites. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has been a trailblazer in terms of investigating construction site accidents. His office successfully prosecuted a contractor as a homicide case after the 2018 death of a laborer. In Manhattan, prosecutors have pursued criminal convictions for supervisors whose actions led to two workers being permanently disabled.
Any seasoned prosecutor will confirm that criminal statutes are in place, overall, to protect society. Criminal penalties have a myriad of different goals, including, among other things, punishing the wrongdoer, providing a sense of justice to a victim (when appropriate), and deterring future crime.
Many of the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy spent significant time in their careers honing their skills as New York City prosecutors. So, naturally, we have been considering the impact that the specter of a criminal prosecution may have on worksite safety. The sample size of cases remains too small to reach any broad sweeping conclusions. Still, one would imagine that the aforementioned criminal cases raised the attention of those responsible for safety at construction sites.
Will the renewed vigor that some prosecutorial agencies are employing to prosecute the “bad actors” in the construction industry lead to meaningful change? Will the prospect of a criminal charge affect the way people operate at a construction site? As we hope, will it lead to fewer accidents? When a foreman is seeking to compel a worker to do something without appropriate safety protection, does that worker now have an added layer to protect him or her—The Penal Law?
The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy applaud the innovative decisions made by the Brooklyn and Manhattan prosecutors responsible for implementing these changes. If capable prosecutors are bringing fair-minded cases with the goal of punishing people who are recklessly exposing workers to harm, while also changing the culture surrounding safety in the construction field, this is a welcome and urgent form of progress.
All workers have a right to safe working conditions; if workers are not provided with this basic right and an accident occurs, the negligent party must compensate them.
Put an experienced lawyer on your side to protect your rights and get help now for your work injuries. Block O’Toole & Murphy’s notable construction accident verdicts and settlements include:
- $110,174,972 jury verdict for a cyclist who sustained serious injuries, including paralysis, after he was hit by a falling object at a Brooklyn renovation site
- $53,500,000 jury verdict for worker who sustained paraplegia after he fell on the job while in the process of installing AC units
- $15,000,000 settlement for the family of an HVAC technician who was killed in an on-the-job accident at a hospital
- $12,000,000 settlement for a tunnel worker hurt during the number 7 train subway extension project in Manhattan
- $11,500,000 settlement for a construction worker who suffered a severe wrist injury after a defective saw accident in the Bronx
- $11,000,000 settlement for a worker who suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis and spine after falling three stories during a new construction project in Brooklyn
- $10,875,000 settlement for a worker who fell from the rooftop of the building in Brooklyn
- $10,500,000 settlement for the surviving family of a union laborer who was tragically killed when a defective saw kicked back, striking his neck
- $9,750,000 settlement for a construction worker who suffered serious injuries requiring multiple surgeries, including a three-level cervical fusion and four-level lumbar fusion
- $7,400,000 recovery for a sheet worker injured while working on a HVAC unit at a Brooklyn store undergoing renovation
- $7,300,000 settlement for a laborer who sustained an arm amputation while performing steel demolition
- $7,200,000 settlement for the surviving wife and young children of a 25-year-old man who lost his life after falling 50 feet from a misleveled elevator shaft
- $7,000,000 award for a carpenter who was struck in the face by a metal clamp in Astoria, Queens
- $6,793,881 jury verdict for union worker who was injured during an accident at a water treatment plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
- $6,500,000 settlement for a union mechanic who fell 18-20 feet after the catwalk he was walking on collapsed
- $6,500,000 verdict for a Local 731 worker who suffered a traumatic lower back injury after he was struck by a beam that fell 16 feet
- $6,400,000 settlement for ironworker who fell approximately 30 feet during a construction project in the Bronx
- $6,250,000 settlement in Putnam County case for a worker who became quadriplegic after a fall during a new home construction project
- $6,000,000 settlement for worker who fell off an exterior scaffold
- $5,900,000 settlement for Bronx worker with fractures, nerve, and spinal injuries after a ladder fall
- $5,885,000 jury verdict for an undocumented worker who fell while painting a ceiling beam during a Queens construction project
- $5,500,000 settlement in Nassau County case for worker struck by machinery
- $5,500,000 settlement for worker with head injuries and fractures after a construction accident in East Williamsburg
- $5,030,572 recovery for construction laborer who fell approximately 25 feet when the scaffold tipped over
- $5,000,000 settlement for a laborer who sustained multiple injuries after he suffered an electric shock during an excavation project
- $5,000,000 jury verdict for worker with ankle, foot, and back injuries after falling 12 feet to the ground during a warehouse renovation project
To discuss your case with a Block O’Toole & Murphy attorney, please call 212-736-5300 today.
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