Construction sites, from large skyscraper projects to small jobs, challenge workers of all trades every day. Modern construction science and technology allows projects to be completed faster and, usually, safer, than in the past. But despite the technology, construction sites can still be dangerous places, and workers are still injured.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has represented those injured on construction sites for over three decades, recovering large settlements and verdicts for seriously injured workers. We are experts at the laws governing work site safety and the detailed work necessary to guide a construction accident lawsuit from start to finish. To speak to an experienced Construction Site Accident Lawyer, Contact Us or call 1-800-2-DEARIE.
Intro to Third Party Lawsuits
If you are injured while working on a construction site (or if you are injured while working anywhere), Workers' Compensation laws prohibit you from suing your employer for those on-the-job injuries.
BUT, you may be able to file a lawsuit against (to sue) a third party that is not your employer, if it can be shown that your injuries were caused by the negligence of that third party.
Why Sue a Negligent Third Party?
A Third-Party Lawsuit may allow you to recover for additional damages (money) that is not covered by Workers’ Compensation. This includes money damages for pain and suffering, the total amount of your lost earnings, and loss of enjoyment of life, all of which may be significant dollar amounts.
Who are Third Parties?
Third parties include any person or business, not including your employer, responsible for your work-related injury. Here are some examples:
A Construction worker injures his back and legs when an elevator drops 20 feet due to worn gears improperly inspected by an elevator inspection and maintenance company.
Potential Negligent Third Parties: Elevator inspection and maintenance company.
An electrician suffers facial fractures when a malfunctioning valve on a rented, portable generator explodes, striking the electrician.
Potential Negligent Third Parties: Equipment rental company.
Two Construction workers exiting the shanty are struck by piping that fell from a delivery truck bringing materials to a sub-contractor on the jobsite.
Potential Negligent Third Parties: Delivery truck company, employer of truck drivers.
A welder fractures his hip falling from a scaffold at a municipally owned job site.
Potential Negligent Third Parties: Property owner, scaffolding company.
An electrician fractures his patella after tripping over a tool box improperly placed on a walking path by an employee of a different company (not the worker’s employer).
Potential Negligent Third Parties: The other worker and his employer.
If there is a negligent third party and a lawsuit is commenced against that third party, you can still continue to collect your Workers’ Compensation benefits. But identifying potential negligent third-parties can be complicated. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has three decades of expertise at evaluating the facts and details of construction site accidents to determine whether a viable Third-Party Lawsuit may be brought.
New York Construction Site Laws
The New York Labor Law was passed by the State Legislature to increase the safety of construction sites for workers. In the majority of Construction Accident lawsuits, there are three sections of the New York Labor Law that we (as Plaintiffs) allege were violated, causing injuries to the worker. They are Labor Law Section 200, Labor Law Section 240, and Labor Law Section 241(6).
New York Labor Law Section 200
You can read New York Labor Law Section 200 HERE.
The basic premise of Section 200 is that property owners and contractors shall provide reasonably safe work environments for their employees. The language of Section 200, as you can see, is fairly broad. In other words, Section 200 does not specifically state what is or is not a safe work environment. Just that work sites must be reasonably safe.
New York Labor Law Section 240
You can read New York Labor Law Section 240 HERE.
Section 240 is commonly referred to as the “Scaffold Law”. It says that owners and contractors must provide scaffolding that gives “proper protection” for workers. In addition to Scaffolds, Section 240 also includes other height-related devices that must also give proper protection for workers, including:
Basically, Section 240 protects workers from accidents caused by:
- A worker falling from a height; and
- An object falling from a height and striking a worker.
Because the most serious of injuries on construction sites are often caused by height-related accidents, New York Labor Law included Section 240 to specifically address these types of accidents.
In fact, New York felt so strongly about trying to protect workers from height-related accidents, that it made Section 240 a Strict Liability Statute.
Strict Liability means that Section 240 imposes total liability on owners and general contractors for height-related injuries, even if the owner or general contractor does not perform the work, supervise the work, or employ the injured worker.
Furthermore, unlike in other construction site accidents, the injured worker cannot be assigned comparative liability. This means that even if the worker was partially at fault for the height-related accident, the owner or general contractor is still completely responsible for the worker’s injuries.
New York is the only state in the United States that has a Labor Law section like Section 240.
New York Labor Law Section 241(6)
You can read New York Labor Law Section 241(6) HERE.
Section 241(6) (often called “241 sub 6”) creates liability for violations of the New York State Industrial Code. In other words, if the cause of your injuries was a violation of rules that govern workplace safety, Section 241(6) was not followed.
For example, a carpenter on a jobsite injured his eye while driving masonry nails into concrete. Because there are regulations requiring eye protection if employees are engaged in activities which might endanger their eyes, Section 241(6) was violated.
I Was Injured on a Jobsite – Now What?
As soon as you contact The Dearie Law Firm, P.C., our lawyers, investigators and experts will visit your accident location to conduct a thorough investigation. However, there are ways that you can help that investigation process, even before contacting The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. Below are some suggestions to consider taking immediately after your Construction Site accident.
The immediate aftermath of a jobsite-injury can be scary and confusing. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
Seek Medical Treatment
If you were involved in a jobsite accident and you were not immediately taken to the hospital, but you think you are injured, go to the hospital or your doctor.
Not only is it important that you get medical treatment for any injuries you sustained, but it is important to document your injuries as soon as possible after that accident.
If you wait for an extended period of time, it can (and will) be argued by Defendants that your injuries were caused not by the jobsite accident, but by some intervening event after the accident and before you received medical treatment.
Report Injuries to Your Employer
It is important that you report your injuries to your employer as soon as possible. In order to receive the Workers’ Compensation benefits to which you will be entitled (visit our Workers’ Compensation page HERE), your employer must be notified within 30 days of the accident.
Take photographs of the accident location as soon as possible after your accident. Once you contact The Dearie Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys and investigators will visit the accident site. But conditions on a construction site change very quickly. Equipment and workers are constantly moving around, which can easily change the accident location from its condition at the time of your injuries.
Take several photographs of the accident location, both up close and from a distance, to give perspective. Pictures will be very helpful to give people who were not there (your lawyer, the judge, the jury) an accurate depiction of the condition of the accident location at the time of your accident.
If you cannot take pictures at the time of the accident because of your injuries, return to the accident scene as soon as possible thereafter to take pictures, or have a co-worker take pictures.
Get Witness Information
When a worker is in an accident and injured, asking witnesses for contact information is often not the first thing on their mind. But witness accounts and testimony of the jobsite condition, your accident, your injuries, and the surrounding circumstances, will be very helpful in a lawsuit.
In other settings, when a person is injured, there often are no witnesses. On a jobsite, this is rarely a problem. So ask, or have a co-worker ask, for the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed your accident, or who was at the accident location on that day.
Be Careful of Who You Talk To
After jobsite accidents, insurance carriers will often try to get statements from the injured worker. You have no obligation, and you should not, speak to anyone from an insurance company, or anyone that you do not know, about your accident.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. understands construction site accident cases. We have successfully represented injured workers for 30 years. If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a construction- or job-site accident, Contact Us or call 1-800-2-DEARIE.