Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
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Construction Accident Lawyers in Syracuse, New York

Syracuse is a commercial and cultural hub of Central New York, which has been developing steadily over the past decade. This means there is a lot of construction activity in the area. Working in construction is associated with a high risk of injury. 

In Syracuse, New York, construction accidents happen rather frequently, and navigating the processes around compensation can be overwhelming. This is why finding a reliable Syracuse construction accident lawyer is essential. We will explain what they do and how to find a good one below.

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The Role of a Syracuse Construction Accident Lawyer

A construction accident lawyer is a legal representative for workers who have sustained injuries in construction incidents. In cases of worker deaths, the lawyer may also represent the victim’s family. Their primary objective is to protect the victim’s rights and facilitate fair compensation for the damages resulting from the accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress.

Here’s what a construction lawyer can provide:

  1. Legal guidance
    Drawing upon their extensive knowledge of New York’s construction laws, OSHA regulations, and local precedents, a Syracuse construction accident lawyer can assess the specifics of each situation, identify liable parties, and advise the worker on what to do next.
  2. Investigation and evidence gathering
    Construction accident cases often demand exhaustive investigations to determine liability and demonstrate employer negligence. A lawyer will help you gather evidence and build a compelling case.
  3. Navigating complex legal procedures
    Given the intricacies of construction accident cases, experience in navigating these legal processes is crucial.
  4. Securing compensation

Victims of construction accidents may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and emotional suffering. A Syracuse construction accident lawyer will ensure that victims receive the compensation they deserve.

Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Claims and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits are both reasonable options for seeking compensation after an injury. Each option has distinct characteristics:

  • Fault
      • Workers’ Compensation: Typically operates on a no-fault basis, entitling injured workers to compensation irrespective of fault, as long as the injury occurred on the job.
      • Personal Injury Lawsuits: Workers must demonstrate negligence as the cause of their injuries.
  • Compensation
      • Workers’ Compensation: Typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and sometimes disability benefits, but usually does not include compensation for pain and suffering.
      • Personal Injury Lawsuits: Can provide compensation for a wider range of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Litigation Process
      • Workers’ Compensation: Generally resolves through administrative hearings. Settlements are negotiated between the worker’s lawyer and the defendant’s insurance company.
      • Personal Injury Lawsuits: Proceed in civil court, involving stages such as filing a complaint, evidence exchange, settlement negotiations, and potentially a trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
  • Limits on Recovery
      • Workers’ Compensation: Benefits often have statutory limits, which vary depending on the state. These limits may cap the amount of compensation an injured worker can receive.
      • Personal Injury Lawsuits: In New York State, there is a three-year window from the injury date to file a lawsuit. Compensation amounts are determined based on various individual factors, including the severity of injuries and their impact on the worker’s life.
  • Third-Party Liability
    • Workers’ Compensation: Generally prohibits employees from suing their employer for additional damages if they already receive workers’ compensation. However, they may pursue personal injury claims against third parties responsible for their injuries.
    • Personal Injury Lawsuits: Allow workers to hold negligent parties accountable for their role in causing injuries, including (in some cases) employers, product manufacturers, and property owners.

In summary, workers’ compensation claims provide benefits regardless of fault but have limitations on the types and amounts of compensation. Personal injury lawsuits require proof of negligence but may result in larger payouts. However, it’s important to note that compensation is never guaranteed.

What to Know About Construction Accident Lawsuits in Syracuse, NY

In Syracuse, NY construction-related injuries are a serious concern due to the inherent dangers of construction work. In May 2020, a jogger died in DeWitt due to being hit by a forklift loader. 

According to a report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the state of New York has higher fatality rates in the construction sector compared to the national average. Specifically, construction-related fatalities in New York account for 24 percent of all worker deaths, surpassing the national average of 21 percent.

New York Labour Laws – Construction Accidents

New York’s labor laws ensure that workers are protected from hazards at work and compensated if an injury occurs.

The most important labor laws to remember are: 

  • Section 200

Section 200 outlines general obligations for ensuring workplace safety. It requires property owners and employers to provide a safe working environment for employees. Specifically, Section 200 mandates that property owners and employers take reasonable precautions to protect workers from hazards on the premises.

  • Section 240  

Section 240, of the New York Labor Law is commonly referred to as the “Scaffolding Law.” This section imposes strict liability on property owners and contractors for certain height-related risks at construction sites. Under this law, if a worker is injured or killed due to a fall or falling object at a construction site, the property owner and general contractor can be held liable, regardless of whether they were directly at fault. The law is intended to provide additional protection for workers who are exposed to risks of injury while working at heights.

  • Section 241(6)

Section 241(6) imposes specific requirements on construction site owners, contractors, and their agents to ensure the safety of workers. It sets strict safety standards and regulations that must be adhered to on construction sites. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal liability if an accident occurs on the construction site.

Main Causes of Accidents on Construction Sites in Syracuse

The main causes of construction accidents include poor training, lack of safety protocols, faulty equipment, lack of protective equipment, cluttered or otherwise unsafe work area, severe weather conditions and unsafe behavior on site.

OSHA has a special term for the most common construction accidents – the Fatal Four. The Fatal Four includes falls, being caught in or between objects, being struck by falling objects and electrocution. These accidents are considered preventable and should be kept in mind when developing and communicating safety regulations and instuctions. 

The most common construction accidents in Syracuse include:

  1. Falls, trips and slips: Falls from heights: ladders, scaffolding or roofs.
  2. Being struck by falling objects: Workers can be struck by falling objects, including tools and building materials.
  3. Being caught in or between objects: This includes workplace accidents involving being caught up in machinery or collapsing structures.
  4. Electrical accidents: Coming into contact with wires or faulty equipment can result in serious injuries.
  5. Overexertion: Strains and sprains happen when workers are lifting heavy objects.
  6. Burns: Exposure to fires, hot surfaces (such as roofs), and chemicals can cause various degrees of burns.
  7. Respiratory hazards: Inhaling fumes or chemicals can lead to serious lung problems.

If you suffered one of the construction injuries above, you should contact an experienced construction accident lawyer in Syracuse, NY. Contact King Law for a free case evaluation. 

Most Common Types of Injury in Construction

The most common injuries sustained by construction workers in Syracuse, NY and all over the US include:

  1. Sprains and strains
  2. Fractures
  3. Cuts and lacerations
  4. Bruises  
  5. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  6. Back injuries
  7. Burns
  8. Electrical injuries
  9. Crush injuries
  10. Lung damage/disease

Construction workers who experience these health problems may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Contact experienced construction accident attorneys in Syracuse, NY to see if you have a case.

What To Do After a Construction Accident in Syracuse, NY

If you were involved in a construction accident in Syracuse, NY, it’s important to start by ensuring your immediate safety. It is no less important to know and protect your rights. 

Here are the recommended steps:

  1. Seek medical assistance: Promptly seek medical attention. Document all medical treatments received.
  2. Report the accident: Notify your employer about the accident. Ensure that the incident is accurately documented.
  3. Gather evidence: Take photos of the scene and injuries you sustained. Obtain contact information from any witnesses present.
  4. File a workers’ compensation claim: Initiate a claim with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
  5. Consult with a lawyer: Seek legal counsel from an attorney who specializes in construction accidents.
  6. Notify the authorities if necessary: Depending on the circumstances, consider reporting it to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the New York Department of Labor.
  7. Document all expenses: Maintain records of all expenses related to the accident, including medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages.
  8. Identify third parties involved: If third-party negligence contributed to your accident, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Property owners or contractors could be potential third parties. Consult with a construction accident lawyer to investigate the incident, establish negligence, and seek broader compensation claims.

This infographic shows a flow chart of the steps an injured worker should take when injured on the job at construction sites in Syracuse.

Determining Liability After a New York Construction Accident

According to New York’s labor statutes, such as Sections 200, 240 (commonly known as the Scaffolding Law), and 241(6), employers, property owners, contractors, and other involved parties are obligated to uphold a secure work environment and comply with safety regulations at construction sites. Neglecting these responsibilities may lead to liability for any worker injuries that occur.

Third-Party Liability

Apart from potential liability on the part of the employer, third parties like equipment manufacturers, contractors, architects, and property managers could also bear responsibility for accidents resulting from their negligence. Holding these parties accountable is only possible after a thorough investigation and meticulous evidence collection. It is recommended to enlist the help of an attorney with the ability to navigate liability matters.

Types of Recoverable Damages

The types of recoverable damages following a construction accident can be categorized into two main groups: economic and non-economic damages.

  • Economic Damages:
    • Medical Expenses: Compensation for medical treatment, hospital bills, medication, and rehabilitation.
    • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to the inability to work during recovery.
    • Property Damage: Compensation for damage to personal property, such as tools or equipment.
    • Rehabilitation Costs: Compensation for expenses related to physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other forms of rehabilitation.
    • Future Medical Expenses: Compensation for anticipated future medical costs.
    • Loss of Earning Capacity: Compensation for the diminished ability to earn income in the future due to permanent disability caused by the accident.
  • Non-Economic Damages:
    • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress suffered as a result of the accident and subsequent injuries.
    • Emotional Trauma: Compensation for psychological distress, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the accident.
    • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the inability to participate in activities, gatherings or hobbies the worker had before the accident due to injuries sustained.
    • Loss of Consortium: Compensation for the negative impact the injuries have on the worker’s physical relationship with their spouse or partner.
    • Punitive Damages: In rare cases of extreme negligence or intentional harm, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party.

How to File a Construction Accident Lawsuit in Syracuse, NY

Filing a construction accident lawsuit in Syracuse, NY can be complex. Here’s a streamlined guide to help you navigate the process effectively:

  1. Consult with a construction accident attorney:
    • Seek out a reputable local attorney specializing in construction accidents.
    • Schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
  2. Gather evidence:
    • Collect all relevant evidence, including photos, witness statements, and medical records.
  3. Identify liable parties:
    • Understand that suing your employer is typically limited to exceptional circumstances.
    • Consider pursuing claims against third parties (if any) responsible for the accident.
  4. Submit legal paperwork:
    • Your attorney will handle the preparation and filing of necessary documents.
    • They will guide you through the legal process.
  5. Negotiate or proceed to trial:
    • Your attorney will negotiate with the defendants and their insurers to reach a fair settlement.
    • If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial, where your attorney will represent you in court.

Statute of Limitations for Construction Accident Lawsuits in Syracuse

When initiating a construction accident lawsuit, it’s crucial to adhere to specific deadlines to ensure eligibility for compensation. Take note of the following timeframes:

  1. Notify your employer within 30 days of the injury.
  2. File a workers’ compensation claim within 2 years of notifying the employer.
  3. File a personal injury lawsuit within 3 years of the injury date.
  4. If the accident resulted in a fatality, file a wrongful death lawsuit within 2 years of the death date.
  5. For injuries or illnesses from long-term exposure to hazardous substances, file a lawsuit within 3 years of the discovery date.
  6. If pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against a municipality in New York, file within 1 year and 90 days of the accident. Additionally, file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the accident to initiate a civil lawsuit.

Syracuse Construction Accident Lawyer Costs and Fees

Construction accident lawyers in Syracuse, NY usually operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that clients only pay attorney fees if they get compensation. 

The fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the total amount received, with a typical rate in New York State being one-third (approximately 33%) of the settlement amount.

Contact a Syracuse Construction Accident Attorney

A construction accident attorney can offer invaluable guidance and assistance throughout your legal journey.

At King Law, our team has extensive experience handling construction accidents. Get in touch to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often do accidents occur in construction in Syracuse, NY?
Construction accidents in Central New York happen relatively often, and Syracuse is no exception. According to NYCOSH, an average of 50 workers die each year in New York State.
What are the main causes of accidents in construction in Syracuse, NY?
Falls are the most common cause of injury in Syracuse and the rest of NY. According to the United States Department of Labor, falls account for 35.3% of workplace deaths within construction.
How long do construction accident lawsuits take in Syracuse, NY?
Construction injury cases can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to reach conclusion. Cases involving construction injuries can take up to several months to reach resolution.
What are the statute of limitations for construction accident lawsuits in Syracuse, NY?
You must notify employer within 30 days of your injury. After that you have 2 years to file a workers’ compensation claim and 3 years from the injury date to file a personal injury lawsuit. Because these deadlines can be tricky to navigate we recommend that you consult a personal injury lawyer.
How do you pick the right Syracuse construction accident attorney?
Make sure the firm you’re talking to has handled similar cases in the past. Research their fees and fee structure. Ultimately, meet them in person and see if you get on and if you can trust them with your case.
How do you claim medical damages after a construction accident in Syracuse, NY?
You can either file for workers’ compensation or file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party (ex. property owner or equipment manufacturer).
How is fault determined in a construction accident?
Fault is determined based on negligence. This means that your lawyer needs to prove that your employer or a third party neglected their duties to provide a safe working environment.
Who can I sue after a construction accident in Syracuse, NY?
In New York you typically can’t sue your employer, so to start a personal injury lawsuit you need evidence that a third party was at fault.
What do I do after a construction accident at work in Syracuse, NY?
After receiving all the necessary medical treatments, collect the evidence and find a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling construction accident cases in Syracuse.