New York City is unlike any other place in the world. With the constant buzz of construction and some of the tallest buildings in the Western hemisphere, it should come as no surprise that job site accidents happen almost every day.
Construction workers make up 5% of New York City’s workforce, with new employment initiatives creating jobs in this sector each year. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction site accidents make up a quarter of workplace injuries each year.
Common Causes of Construction Accidents in NYC
There are many potential hazards on a construction site, making safety a top priority. Some of the most common New York construction site accidents are caused by:
- Scaffolding accidents: This includes falling from scaffolding, scaffolding collapsing or tipping, or items falling from scaffolding overhead.
- Building collapse: Caused by poor building materials, a defective foundation, explosion, problems with engineering.
- Slip and fall: Tripping over debris or improperly secured wiring, slipping on liquid, falling through floors, etc.
- Electrocution: Experiencing an electrical shock caused by improper site safety.
- Fires and explosions: Incurring damage from flammable materials or explosions.
While there are plenty of other job site injuries, these are the most notable. If you experience an injury that’s not on this list, it’s still worth discussing the incident with an attorney. They can help you determine the best course of action for your injuries. For example, an experienced construction accident lawyer can examine the details of your case and advise you to file a personal injury or a workers’ compensation claim to answer for your economic and non-economic losses. These include medical bills, lost wages and earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Step One: Secure the Job Site
After an accident occurs, the first step is to secure the job site. This seems callous, but it’s integral for preventing further injury. For example, if a co-worker is hit by falling debris or is electrocuted, running to assist could put more people at risk, including yourself.
Ensuring that the danger has passed before rushing onto the scene is a must to prevent further damages and injury.
Step Two: Seek Medical Attention
Once the site is secure, the person involved in the accident should receive immediate medical attention. If a co-worker appears unconscious or is bleeding, have someone call 911 then administer first aid.
If you’re the person who experienced an injury and you feel OK, it’s still important to seek immediate medical attention. Embarrassment and adrenaline have a way of temporarily diminishing the extent of our injuries. While you may be able to walk the experience off, consulting with a medical professional will ensure there’s no underlying damage. Furthermore, this starts the process of building a paper trail if you decide to build a case later on. In other words, you can use your doctor’s medical findings to strengthen your claim and ensure a more favorable outcome. The medical records can serve as evidence to show that the construction accident was the direct cause of your injuries.
Step Three: Document and Report
If you witness a worksite injury, take some time to document what happened and take pictures of the scene. If you’re the one injured and you are able to do so, snap a few photos and take notes about what happened before leaving the site. It’s essential not to admit fault during this time. Doing so can affect your chances of getting compensated for your injuries. Hence, avoid doing or saying things that can incriminate you if you want a favorable outcome for your construction accident case.
Next, the incident should be reported to the appropriate governing bodies. The accident should be reported to the site safety professional or foreman with an accident report filled out. The incident should also be reported to the Department of Buildings, with someone remaining on-site for the inspection.
In some cases, reporting the accident to the proper authorities, including your employer, is required to file a claim. Failing to report the accident may affect your ability to seek compensation for your construction accident injuries.
Step Four: Contact a New York City Construction Accident Attorney
If you or a co-worker experienced an injury after a construction site accident in New York City, you should read more about your legal rights. Remember that besides workers’ compensation, you might be entitled to additional compensation through a personal injury claim.
But if you file an injury claim, you must prove that someone else’s negligence caused the accident. Otherwise, you can’t get compensated. Unlike in a workers’ compensation claim, fault or negligence on the other party’s part is immaterial. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can receive compensation for your injuries, allowing you to maximize your recovery.
But before filing the claim, you should know when is the right time to call an attorney for assistance. Generally, once the immediate danger has passed, medical attention has been sought out, and the incident was reported, the injured party should contact an attorney right away. If the injured person is unable to contact an attorney due to their injuries, their family should be directed to do so.
Due to the nuances of New York City, navigating a construction site injury requires a knowledgeable attorney. For example, understanding “The Scaffold Law” (Section 240 of the New York Labor Law) provides insights into how scaffolding is legally mandated to be secured and constructed. Representing oneself in a construction injury case would be a huge mistake. Unless you have legal experience and expertise, you need an attorney to negotiate with the insurance company and secure a fair settlement or provide a strong court representation should your case proceed to trial.
On the other hand, it’s also important to note that contacting an attorney doesn’t mean you’re committing to pursuing a lawsuit; it’s an opportunity to explore your options.
Hopefully, you’ll never need the information above. However, it’s best to be prepared for any situation to ensure your ongoing health and wellness as a construction worker in New York.