Construction workers are icons of New York. They built the city skyline and are there daily, making the state grow. But working in construction is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have. Construction accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injury and death in America today.
Because construction work is dangerous and essential, the New York Labor Law was written to provide minimum safety standards for workers in all work settings. Property owners, contractors, and subcontractors are obligated to provide safe and secure work sites for their workers.
If you have been injured on a construction site, you have the right to compensation for your injuries. The construction accident attorneys at Feroleto Law are here to help you get the justice you deserve for your accident. At Feroleto Law, the consultation is always free. We work on a contingency fee basis. There’s no cost to you unless you win.
Call Feroleto Law at 716-854-0700 to make an appointment to speak with an attorney today to discuss your case.
Steps to Take After a Construction Site Accident
If you’ve been injured you will likely file a workers compensation claim. You should also consider a third-party personal injury claim. You need to take steps to make a successful claim.
- Report the accident to your employer or site manager. You must report the injury within 30 days of the accident or risk losing your benefits. You should report the injury immediately or immediately after learning of a job-related illness or toxic exposure.
- Seek medical treatment right away. Your employer may want you to go to a company doctor or approved clinic, but you have the right to choose your own doctor as long as they are part of the New York workers’ compensation system. In an emergency, you will need to go to the emergency room.
- Gather as much evidence as possible. If you can, you should take photos of the accident scene immediately after your injury. Construction sites seldom look the same two days in a row, and broken ladders or scaffolds must be replaced at once. If you cannot take photos, make notes of what was around the accident site, get the names of witnesses, and try to have another person gather information about the scene.
- Consider hiring an attorney. You have a right to consult legal counsel whether you decide to retain one or not. Before taking the next step, you should discuss your options with an attorney who understands workers’ compensation law and personal injury cases.
- File for workers’ compensation. You can file your claim for benefits within two years of the accident or from the date you learned you had an occupational disease.
- If you see a doctor and did not file for workers’ compensation right away, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. This helps establish the connection between the injury and any later claims of disability.
It is important to follow all these steps, even if your injury seems minor. For instance, if you fell off a ladder and hit your elbow on the pavement, it might not seem like a serious injury. However, suppose your elbow becomes swollen and painful three days later, and the doctor diagnoses a hairline fracture. If you didn’t report the fall when it happened, it may be difficult to make a workers’ compensation claim because of the delay. It may also be harder to show that the ladder was responsible for your fall because it has since been repaired or replaced.
On the other hand, reporting it immediately would have put the injury on the record. Even if it became a problem later, the Workers’ Compensation Board would have been able to process your claim.
Third-Party Claims and Personal Injury Claims
Workers’ compensation is sometimes called “no-fault” insurance. That means it pays benefits no matter who is to blame for the accident. Workers’ compensation pays for:
- Medical costs, including rehabilitation such as physical therapy and medication
- Up to 65% of weekly wages
- Travel expenses to and from appointments
- Funeral costs if the worker dies.
Workers’ compensation will not cover pain and suffering, loss of other income, loss of consortium, or similar damages. Workers’ compensation will also not cover you if the injury was due to third-party negligence. If you file for workers’ compensation, you waive your right to sue your employer for negligence in causing your injury or illness.
For these reasons, you may choose to file a personal injury claim against the party who caused your injury. The benefit of a personal injury claim is that you can sue for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Your award could be significantly higher than the payment from a workers’ compensation claim. The drawback is that a personal injury claim can take many months or years to resolve.
Third-party liability claims may include:
- Vehicle accidents involving delivery trucks, equipment operators, and other drivers bringing vehicles to the site
- Outside workers include day workers, janitorial staff, subcontractors, or sub- subcontractors employees.
- Product liability. These cases involve faulty equipment damaged during manufacture or shipping and delivered to the site in a defective condition.
- Property liability. The property owner is liable for hazards at the job site. The owner has a duty to see that proper safety equipment is provided to protect men and women at the construction project. The owner is in the best position to see safe contractors are hired and follow the minimum safety requirements of the labor law.
Filing a third-party lawsuit involves certain steps different than a workers’ compensation claim. When bringing a lawsuit against a property owner contractor or subcontractor, very different laws apply. However, when you make a claim against another party’s insurance, you need to provide them with proof of injury, evidence of causation, and your medical costs and loss of income.
Occupational illnesses are any disease or conditions resulting from the nature of the employment and caused by a distinctive feature of performing the job itself. Unlike other injuries, occupational illnesses require that the claimant be disabled to obtain compensation.
The “disease” does not have to be a clinical disease. The New York Workers’ Compensation website lists asbestosis and carpal tunnel syndrome as examples of occupational illnesses that may be covered by “occupational illnesses.” The primary requirement is that the claimant be harmed or disabled by the condition.
To prove an occupational illness, you and your attorney must show that your disease is directly related to your job and the unique duties of the position. To do this, you should provide:
- The medical evidence of the nature of the disease. This helps establish the onset of the condition, steps you took to alleviate the problem, doctor recommendations to treat the conditions, and a timeline of the progression of the disease.
- Evidence linking the type of job to the condition. This may involve expert opinions or scientific evidence. For instance, it is well-known that inhaling asbestos causes mesothelioma, so that can be demonstrated in current literature. Proving that running a jackhammer for 20 years caused nerve damage in your arms is less well-known and may require expert testimony.
- Evidence of any pre-existing conditions. Even if you have a pre-existing condition, you may still be able to file a claim if the workplace conditions worsen your condition.
Proving occupational illnesses requires a timeline and good documentation. Unfortunately, many people wait until their condition becomes too painful or debilitating to ignore before seeking treatment. You must see a doctor for any job-related injury or illness, even if it seems minor. Establishing a pattern of injury may be critical to filing a claim later.
Limits on Filing Your Claims
When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you have two years from the date of the accident to file your claim. However, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the date of the accident, and your employer has only 10 days to contact their insurance carrier about the accident. Any delay on your part makes your chances of recovery more difficult.
In the case of an occupational illness, you have two years from the date you first learned you were disabled due to an occupational cause. However, the two years may begin to run from the date you “knew or should have known” that an exposure could have caused you an illness.
For instance, if you were exposed to a toxic chemical spill at work, the time will begin from that date, not after you learn of an illness. For labor law or personal injury claims you generally have three years to bring a lawsuit, however there are many exceptions, a notice of claim may need to be filed within 90 days, and a lawsuit may need to be filed in as little as one year and three months for cases involving municipalities, New York State, IDA’s and other agencies.
For these reasons, you should never delay in contacting an attorney after a workplace injury or illness.
Contact Feroleto Law Today
John Feroleto knows how to recover for construction workers injured at job sites. He teaches other lawyers about construction site injuries. He has presented on jobsite lawsuits many times for the New York State trial lawyers Association. You need a New York construction accident attorney, you want John Feroleto and the lawyers at Feroleto Law. The attorneys at Feroleto Law have been in business for nearly 40 years and know the laws that protect construction workers’ rights. Lead attorney John Feroleto has obtained multimillion-dollar settlements for his clients.
He has worked in the mud and on ladders and scaffolds at construction sites himself, he knows the dangers that workers experience, the dignity of our construction workers and he will fight to help them get the compensation they deserve.
If you have been injured at a construction site in Buffalo and need a construction site accident attorney, call the experienced legal team at Feroleto Law as soon as possible. We will review your case with you and help you understand your options and best alternatives.
We know this is a difficult time for you and your family, and you have many questions that need to be answered. We are here to help you through this difficult time. Call us at 716-854-0700 for an appointment today.
Attorney John Feroleto
Attorney John Feroleto understands the value of hard work. He is known in the community and by his peers for his willingness to work and go the extra mile. Other lawyers often ask John to handle their trial matters to maximize clients’ recovery. Trial lawyers know who the best trial lawyers are. He was also named Trial Attorney of the Year in 2012 by the Western New York Affiliate of New York State Trial Lawyers Association. [ Attorney Bio ]