Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
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The construction industry continues to have some of the most dangerous occupations in the country. It has some of the highest injury and fatality rates compared to other jobs. Construction workers who are injured in New York are encouraged to contact an accident lawyer who can help ensure they receive the financial recovery they deserve through a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or a personal injury lawsuit.

At King Law, our New York construction accident lawyers have extensive experience helping injured workers secure the compensation they deserve after an accident with injuries. Our attorneys have successful track records and work on a contingency fee basis. Contact our office today to discuss whether you are eligible to file a legal claim for damages.

Table of Contents:

What to Know About Construction Accident Lawsuits in New York

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over two dozen construction industry fatalities in New York City alone over the course of a single year. Construction jobs continue to be some of the most dangerous and deadly. Unfortunately, non-compliance by employers is frequently the cause of these accidents, meaning most are preventable. 

If you are injured in a construction accident in New York, you should speak with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help determine your legal options, including whether you should file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a liable party.

New York Labor Laws – Construction Accidents

In order to protect workers, the State of New York passed comprehensive labor laws. These laws not only provide protections for construction workers, but they also allow injured workers to secure compensation for construction-related injuries and give them the ability to hold negligent parties accountable for their wrongdoing.

New York Labor Laws protecting construction workers:

  • Section 200: New York Labor Law § 200 provides a general duty for companies to protect the health and safety of their employees. The duty applies to sites and machinery or equipment and requires for the company to provide reasonable and adequate protections.
  • Section 240 (Scaffolding Law): New York Labor Law § 240, also referred to as New York’s “scaffolding law,” imposes strict liability on contractors and property owners to protect workers from height-related risks. Under this law, there is no need to prove negligence if a violation of safety provisions caused the injury. It focuses on companies providing adequate fall protection (a leading cause of construction injuries) and safety from falling objects.
  • Section 241(6): New York Labor Law § 241(6) requires companies to comply with all New York State Industrial Code provisions for construction site safety, including excavation and demolition work. 

New York’s Labor Laws provide protection against a wide range of construction site dangers, including falls, unsafe scaffolding and ladders, falling objects, and inadequate safety measures.

Main Causes of Accidents on Construction Sites in New York

There are many factors that may cause accidents at construction sites in New York. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the four leading causes of construction industry deaths. Known as “The Fatal Four,” accidents involving Caught-in/Caught-between, falls, electrocutions, and struck by objects account for approximately 65% of all construction deaths.

Common causes of construction accidents in New York:

  • Fall-related accidents, mainly falls from heights (elevators, ladders, scaffolds)
  • Inadequate training or supervision
  • Being struck by a falling object or debris
  • Electrical accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Equipment malfunctions or defective machinery
  • Fire-related accidents
  • Exposure to toxic materials
  • Injuries related to exposure to compressed gasses
  • Welding accidents
  • Crane accidents
  • Lifting and back injuries
  • Faulty equipment 
  • Dangerous work sites
  • Hand and power tool injuries
  • Transportation accidents
  • Construction defects
  • Roof and ceiling collapse
  • Scaffolding accidents
  • Building collapse
  • Forklift accidents

Construction accidents in New York are not only prevalent but they are preventable. Many are simply the result of inadequate safety measures, improper training, or a failure to ensure that equipment is working properly. Companies can take steps to reduce the risk of injury or death to construction workers, but many cut corners in order to save money.

Most Common Types of Injury Cases in Construction

Construction accident injuries can range in severity from minor to catastrophic. Any injury, however, can result in a significant financial impact, including having to miss work. Injured workers can secure compensation to recover accident-related losses such as medical bills, lost wages and other damages through a legal claim.

Common injuries in construction accidents:

  • Burn injuries
  • Electrocution
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Loss of hearing or vision
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries and herniated discs
  • Internal bleeding and organ failure
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Crushing injuries and amputations
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Wrongful death

If you are injured in a workplace accident, you may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages and medical treatment. In some instances, you may be eligible to file an injury claim or lawsuit for additional compensation.

What To Do After a Construction Accident in NY

If you are injured in a construction accident in New York, there are critical steps that you should take immediately following the incident. It is important to seek medical attention, report the accident, and document all evidence related to your injuries. 

Steps to take after a construction accident in New York:

  • Seek emergency medical care. You should do this regardless of the severity of the injury. 
  • Report the accident. Make sure to report the incident to your supervisor and get a copy of what you file for official documentation.
  • Collect witness information. Contact any witnesses and write down their information.
  • Secure evidence. Take pictures at the scene and of your injuries.
  • Continue medical treatment. A failure to seek or continue medical treatment may negatively impact your case.
  • Consult with a construction accident lawyer. An attorney can help determine whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits or a personal injury lawsuit.

It is important to act quickly, as you may only have a limited amount of time to file a claim. Failure to file a lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim within the legally required time limits may result in your case being dismissed.

Determining Liability After a New York Construction Accident

Determining liability after a New York construction accident can be challenging without the help of a qualified attorney. Under most circumstances, a construction worker who is injured on the job will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim against their employer. It is usually the sole remedy available to them. However, there are some exceptions. 

Section 240 of New York’s Labor Laws imposes strict liability for harm that is caused by scaffolding and other equipment. Additionally, while employers are generally exempt from personal injury lawsuits, third parties are not. Therefore, if your injuries are the result of a third party’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. 

Potentially liable third parties in construction accidents:

  • Property owners
  • General contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Construction site owners
  • Prime contractors
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Retailers and wholesalers

The best way to determine liability after a construction accident is by retaining a skilled attorney. While New York laws tend to favor worker protection, an attorney can help you determine the best course of legal action.

Damages to Recover from a Construction Accident Injury

Depending on the situation, you may be able to recover damages after a construction accident in New York. The two main ways to secure a financial recovery are through a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. 

Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, permanent disability, and death benefits. It is not necessary to prove negligence in a workers’ compensation claim. In a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove liability, but you may be able to recover additional damages.

Damages that may be available in a personal injury lawsuit: 

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Long-term care
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium

In some cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing. They are usually only available in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm.

Investigation Process for New York Construction Accident Injury Cases

The investigation process for construction accident cases is extensive. An attorney can conduct an independent investigation into the cause of the accident, including collecting evidence, analyzing legal documents, and consulting with experts.

Collection of evidence may include working to obtain official reports, OSHA investigations, building records, and medical documents. An attorney may also work to secure witness statements to ensure an accurate account of the incident. 

Throughout the investigation, it is important to provide any relevant documents to your attorney, including those related to your job, safety memos, inspection reports, and insurance policies. The more information you can provide, the stronger your case will be.

Deposition Process for Construction Accident Injury Lawsuits

One of the most critical portions of the case is the deposition process. An attorney will use the deposition to strengthen your case. Throughout the deposition, they may ask questions, helping to evaluate the defendant’s liability. They may ask questions about safety equipment usage, contracts related to site safety, whether the Scaffolding Law was properly followed, the role of certain employers, and prior inspections.

Types of Construction Accident Lawsuits: Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury

There are two basic types of construction accident claims. The first is a workers’ compensation claim. Under most circumstances, an employer cannot be sued. Therefore, workers’ compensation is the sole remedy available for injured employees against their employers. Benefits in workers’ compensation claims are limited to lost wages, medical expenses, and disability.

The other type of claim is a personal injury lawsuit. Additional compensation is available in a successful personal injury lawsuit, including damages related to pain and suffering. In some cases, both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party personal injury lawsuit can be filed. 

Filing a Lawsuit for Workers’ Compensation

If you are injured in a construction accident, you may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation claim may be paid regardless of whether you were at fault. It protects both employees and employers, allowing employees to be paid faster and employers to be protected from lawsuits. 

Workers’ compensation is mandatory insurance for employers. It covers medical costs and partial lost wages for injured employees. In a workers’ compensation claim, there is no need to prove employer negligence. It is important to begin a claim as early as possible, even if you will also be filing a personal injury lawsuit against a liable third party.

Filing a Lawsuit for a Construction Accident Injury

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to file a lawsuit against a negligent third party. Employers are generally immune from personal injury lawsuits that are covered by workers’ compensation. However, third parties are not. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, you must prove liability. In most cases, it is a safety rule violation that causes the harm, which makes for a viable lawsuit based on negligence.

There are many reasons to file a construction accident lawsuit, including that workers’ compensation may not cover all costs, such as compensation for pain and suffering and full missed wages. Additionally, a lawsuit can help hold construction companies accountable, driving improvements in the future. Lawsuits are typically directed at third parties.

How to File a New York Construction Accident Lawsuit

In order to file a construction accident lawsuit in New York, you must first prove liability. Then, you will need to complete and submit the necessary legal paperwork. It is important to adhere to any timelines, such as the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit. 

To ensure that your lawsuit is filed timely and accurately, you should consult with a lawyer. A lawyer will advocate to protect your rights and prevent inadequate settlement offers. It also allows you to focus on your physical recovery while your attorney handles the legal procedures.

Statute of Limitations for Construction Accident Lawsuits in New York

For a workers’ compensation claim, you must notify your employer within 30 days of your injury. You have up to two years to file a claim after notifying your employer. You have up to three years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit and two years from the date of a person’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

There are limited exceptions to these rules, including that you only have 90 days to file a claim against a government entity. Also, the statute of limitations for an injury or illness from long-term exposure is three years from the date of discovery. It is essential to comply with the statute of limitations and all legal deadlines, or your case may be dismissed.

New York Construction Accident Lawyer Costs and Fees

Construction accident lawyers generally work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney is only paid if the money is recovered on your behalf. If successful, the attorney is paid the agreed upon portion of the recovery. In New York, contingency fees cannot exceed 33%.

Contact a New York Construction Accident Attorney

Were you injured in a New York construction accident? Contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our lawyers have filed numerous lawsuits and will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often do accidents occur in construction in New York?
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous in the state. Accidents at construction sites can happen on a daily basis, with dozens of workers being killed each year.
What are the main causes of accidents in construction in New York?
The main causes of accidents in construction are falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, or injuries related to being caught-in/caught between objects. These “fatal four” account for over 65% of construction fatalities. Nearly all of these accidents are preventable. They are caused by a failure to implement proper safety measures.
What accident kills the most construction workers?
Falls from heights kill the most construction workers across the board.
How many fatal accidents occur each year on New York construction sites?
On average, 20 fatal construction accidents occur each year in New York City alone.
How long do construction accident lawsuits take in New York?
Construction accident lawsuits can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to resolve, depending on the complexity of the case.
How do you file a construction accident lawsuit?
The first step to filing a construction accident lawsuit is to contact a qualified attorney. An attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid claim for damages and how to obtain compensation.
What is the statute of limitations for construction accident lawsuits in NY?
The statute of limitations for a construction accident in New York is three years under most circumstances. However, you only have 90 days to file a claim against a government entity.
Will I be fired for filing a construction accident lawsuit?
It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a valid injury lawsuit.
How do you pick the right New York construction accident attorney?
The attorney you hire should have extensive experience handling construction accident cases throughout New York. The best way to choose is by taking advantage of a free consultation.
How do you claim medical damages after a construction accident in New York?
In order to claim medical damages after a construction accident, you will need proof of your injuries. This is most commonly achieved through medical records.
How is fault determined in a New York construction accident?
Fault is determined through an investigation into what caused the construction accident. You do not need to prove fault in a workers’ compensation claim, but it must be proved in a personal injury lawsuit under most circumstances.
Who can I sue after a construction accident in New York?
There may be one or more parties that can be held liable for your construction accident injuries, including a property owner, contractor, or manufacturer. Employers, however, are usually protected from liability because of workers’ compensation.
What do I do after a construction accident at work?
The first thing you should do after a construction accident at work is contact an attorney. An attorney can help you determine your legal options.