New York Construction Lawsuit FAQs
Construction work can be dangerous even when safety protocol is followed. The consequences can be deadly when safety is not a top priority. For example, in 2016, there were 82,760 non-fatal accidents across the construction industry, as well as 991 on-the-job fatalities, according to the National Safety Council. If you or someone you love have been injured in a construction accident, you probably have questions about your rights, and the compensation you are eligible to receive to pay for your medical bills.
The best thing you can do following an on-the-job accident is to seek prompt medical attention and contact an experienced construction accident attorney as quickly as possible. You can receive a free legal consultation from an experienced lawyer at Block O’Toole & Murphy by calling 212-736-5300 – there is no charge unless we win your case.
I was hurt in a construction accident. Do I have the right to sue?
While the facts of each case are different, your right to a safe workplace is guaranteed by New York State law as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When you suffer an on-the-job injury as a result of not being provided a safe place to work, you may be able to recover compensation through a construction accident lawsuit. The compensation you are entitled to depends on who is responsible for causing your accident (including third-parties such as contractors, co-workers, manufacturers and property owners), the facts of your case, the insurance available, and the extent of your damages.
Does my immigration status affect my ability to pursue a lawsuit?
No. The law dictates you may file a personal injury lawsuit regardless of citizenship status or if you are paid off the books.
Should I tell my supervisor about the accident?
Yes. You should immediately inform your supervisor of any accidents or injuries that occur provided you can do so safely so that they can create an official report, which may be useful later on during the lawsuit. Your employer is not allowed to fire you for reporting your accident, nor should you try to ignore the pain you are feeling.
My accident occurred near but not exactly on the construction site. Do I still have a case?
Yes. The legal interpretation of a workplace includes any area where work tasks are being performed. For example, if you are unloading lumber from your truck and get injured because you were not given proper equipment to safely transfer the materials, you could file a lawsuit provided the lumber was going to be used for work on the site.
I’m already collecting workers’ compensation. Can I still file a lawsuit?
Yes. The caveat is that workers’ compensation law generally prohibits workers from directly suing their employers. Lawsuits may be filed against third-parties, however, such as contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers and property owners.
What damages can I recover compensation for?
Most damages that you can recover following a construction accident injury are compensatory in nature, meaning that they are intended to make an injured Plaintiff “whole again” following an injury, to the degree that is possible. Compensatory damages include but are not limited to:
- Medical bills and treatment
- Lost wages and diminished future earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of once-standard life activities
- Emotional distress from the injury and its aftermath and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
It is also possible to recover punitive damages, which are paid out to punish and deter Defendants who have acted in an egregiously negligent or incompetent manner. Punitive damages for construction accidents and other personal injury lawsuits are quite rare, however.
I have already returned to work following a construction accident injury-can I still sue?
Yes. In New York, you have 3 years after the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Be aware, though, that activities you perform upon returning to work could be used as a defense against your injury claims. Do not try to ‘tough out’ injuries for the sake of your employer and be sure to get medical attention for your injuries-nothing is more important than your health.
How much is my case worth?
It varies based on the details of your specific case. Here are a few factors to consider:
- The extent of your injuries and the cost of the medical bills required to treat them
- The insurance policy and limit of the Defendant(s)
- If your ability to earn a living has been compromised by the injuries you suffered
- How the injuries impacted the normal activities of your life
Will I be contacted by an insurance company? Should I say anything to them?
Do not give a statement to an insurance company before you have spoken with an attorney. This will prevent you from potentially incriminating yourself before your lawsuit begins.
What if I can’t afford to hire an attorney?
Don’t worry about it. The lawyers of Block O’Toole & Murphy only charge a contingency fee, which means that clients are not charged until we win the case.
What kind of information can I gather that might help my lawsuit?
Pictures of the conditions or equipment which led to your injury can help establish what happened on the day of your accident. Contact information of co-workers, supervisors and other witnesses can also help to shed light on the case. The most important thing, however, is to reach out to a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
Who is OSHA and why do they matter?
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is the federal agency responsible for assuring the safe and healthy conditions of workplaces in America. In the event of an accident or complaint about the safety conditions of a workplace, OSHA investigators are the ones who come and inspect and, if necessary, issue citations for safety violations. OSHA also offers best safety practices for many different types and phases of construction work, making them a crucial partner in the fight for worker safety.
Why do construction accidents happen?
There are many different causes and types of construction accidents. The top causes identified by OSHA are:
- Struck by Object
Common pieces of equipment involved in construction accidents include scaffolding, ladders and heavy machinery. Fall protection is critical for many tasks on a construction site, and you should always speak up if you are concerned about a lack of adequate fall protection. Likewise, you should not operate any heavy machinery until you understand how to do so safely. Do not let your supervisor bully you into doing something you know is unsafe.
I was working as a subcontractor when I was injured-can I still sue?
Yes, subcontractors can still sue property owners or other third-parties provided an accident has occurred and negligence can be proven.
What can I do if I feel unsafe at work?
Report it to OSHA. You can do this by filling out an online OSHA complaint form or by calling 1-800-321-OSHA.
What is the Scaffold Law?
The Scaffold Law, or New York Labor Law 240(1), protects workers from a wide range of gravity-related hazards. The Scaffold Law is unique to New York and critical to providing a safe workplace to our construction workers. Thanks to the Scaffold Law, third-parties who do not provide adequate fall protection can be sued for negligence.
Can I sue my employer for negligence?
No, with very few exceptions. Workers’ compensation gives you a way to recover compensation for an on-the-job injury, even if your employer contests that you were at-fault for the accident. The drawback to workers’ compensation, however, is that you are not able to directly sue your employer in the event that your medical bills exceed the amount you are being compensated for. You are, however, able to file personal injury lawsuits against third-parties such as contactors, property owners, or equipment manufacturers.
What is the statute of limitations for construction accidents?
Three years. If the accident resulted in a fatality, however, then the window drops to two years in which to file a lawsuit. In any case, it is recommended to contact a construction accident attorney quickly, so that no time is lost trying to build the strongest case possible, to win the most compensation possible.