Construction Worker Injury
The job of a construction worker is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Due to the nature of the work, one slip can mean permanent injury or death. Because construction work is so dangerous, New York State says that property owners, general contractors and sub-contractors are obligated to provide safe work sites. The New York State Industrial Code provides minimum safety standards for all types of work settings. Preventable construction site injuries are always inexcusable in the eyes of the law.
Yet, even though there are clear laws meant to keep construction workers safe from harm, these workers are consistently under the threat of injury and death. All too often, owners, contractors or subcontractors compromise worker safety. Here are some important statistics that highlight the dangers construction workers face:
- Around 20 percent of all worker injuries in the United States occur in construction.
- The four leading causes of construction worker injuries are falls, electrocutions, being struck by or against an object, and being caught in or between an object.
- These four causes – known as the Fatal Four – account for 60 percent of construction worker injuries.
- Construction workers in specialty trades (those that work with roofing, foundations, structures, concrete, etc.) account for nearly half of all construction worker fatalities.
The construction worker injury attorneys at Feroleto Law are proud to offer our services to those that have suffered workplace injuries. We can often bring what is called a third-party claim against a negligent third party, such as an owner, contractor or subcontractor, to recover what Worker’s Compensation does not pay, such as additional lost wages, pain, suffering, permanent disability and partial disability. We provide aggressive legal representation to ensure that our clients are treated fairly after an on-the-job injury.
Why Choose John Feroleto as Your Attorney?
If you have been hurt in a construction-site accident in Buffalo, Rochester or Syracuse or other counties in New York State, you should call an experienced construction law lawyer who has full knowledge of the special laws protecting construction workers. John Feroleto has handled construction-site injury cases, getting millions of dollars for clients who were hurt on the job.
John Feroleto frequently teaches labor law and construction-site law to other lawyers as part of their legal education. He has worked on many job sites with family members, including his father, a laborer and member of Laborers Local 210 in Buffalo, New York. John also worked with ladders and scaffolds on houses and commercial properties for about 10 years before and while attending the University of Buffalo School of Law.
Construction Injuries Needlessly Occur
The leading cause of construction worker injuries is falls. Most are preventable. Constructions workers often do their jobs from scaffolding, from roofs or from several stories off the ground. This means that when a worker falls, they are likely to suffer devastating, potentially fatal injuries. But there are also many other ways that a construction worker can suffer an injury. Construction workers must be provided safe surfaces for working and walking at construction sites. This is because safe working and walking surfaces can be provided; this is recognized throughout the industry, and required under the New York State industrial code. Worker injury is greatly increased when safe working and walking services are not provided.
Accidents at a construction site can be caused by:
- Defective vehicles or machinery
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxins
- Working on scaffolding that is not structurally sound
- Negligence of other workers
- Failure to secure the site and equipment
- Failure of employers to post adequate warnings
- Repetitive actions or motions, resulting in repetitive stress injuries
- Exposure to extreme weather conditions
In Some Cases, Workers’ Compensation Can Help
In most cases, New York State Workers’ Compensation laws require that you are provided some lost wage benefits while you are a disabled worker, and payment of medical benefits, for injuries caused by the job site accident. However, workers’ compensation benefits may be much less than your average weekly wage, or take-home pay. And the workers’ compensation carrier may send you to a doctor of their choice, who may dispute your injuries, allowing the workers’ compensation carrier to interrupt or deny your medical care and treatment.
Some of the insurance company doctors make substantial amounts of money writing reports favorable to the insurance company, disputing the care of your treating doctors.
Workers’ Compensation Isn’t Always Enough
Unfortunately, when a worker is injured, even if he or she is receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the injury can leave workers in a difficult financial situation. If an injury sidelines an employee, the workers compensation payments may not be enough to cover expenses and make it difficult to support a family, make mortgage or rent payments, continue car payments, pay utility bills and take care of other fixed expenses.
If an injury suffered by a worker, is worth more than the worker’s compensation payments offered he or she may be able to take legal action to secure the payment he or she deserves. If you or a loved has suffered an on-the-job injury, contact Feroleto Law to learn more about your options.
Independent Contracting and Workplace Injuries
Like many industries in the United States, construction is becoming increasingly reliant on what companies call “independent contractors.” As workers know all too well, this classification means that companies provide fewer or no benefits and less pay. It also impacts the availability of traditional workers’ compensation benefits that employees used to rely on after a serious on-the-job injury.
The practice of calling workers independent contractors instead of employees has not been in the best interest of injured workers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that workers are without options. New York has taken steps to protect workers from misclassification, most notably through the New York State Construction Industry Fair Play Act, which sets forth the criteria by which employers can classify constructions workers. The Act also places penalties on companies who fail to comply with proper classification.
Who is Responsible for a Construction Accident?
The first step in a construction-site accident case is sorting through the parties legally responsible for worker safety at the construction site itself. There are usually several parties who have a hand in a construction site: property owners, general contractors, site managers, subcontractors, IDAs, governmental agencies, and other entities involved in construction projects.
It is essential to identify those who may be legally responsible for a construction injury. Experienced construction injury attorneys know how to sift through the complicated nature of legal responsibility for a worksite accident to determine who should be held accountable for a worker’s injury.
When a Non-Employer is at Fault
It is the duty of the site owners, contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers and material suppliers to adhere to all safety rules in the industrial code of New York which set minimum standards in keeping safe a site as safe for workers as possible. Although workers’ compensation laws may prevent some types of lawsuits against employers, one of these other entities may be held responsible for your injuries in what is called a third-party action.
If someone other than your employer is responsible for your injury, a third-party claim can be filed to hold them responsible for the injury they have caused.
What to do After Suffering a Workplace Injury
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you should first secure the evidence, if possible. Take pictures of the construction site, or jobsite, write down the names of witnesses, and what people said, and make note of any defects in equipment, footing, planking, debris, materials or other things that may have contributed to the injury. If you are taken to the hospital, see if a coworker or other person can secure evidence for you.
Why is securing the evidence so important? Often, construction sites change quickly, sometimes within a day or a few days. In some cases, a construction accident attorney will go to court, and get a court order to preserve the evidence before the job site changes. If you have any questions or concerns about security, you should talk to a personal injury attorney experienced in construction site injuries.
If you have suffered an on-the-job injury, you will need to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. If possible, do this in writing and keep a copy of the Employers Report, C-2, and the Employee’s Report, C-3 workers’ compensation form or other notice you gave. Seek immediate medical attention and keep copies of any bills you receive. In the days, weeks and months that follow your injury, keep track of any bills, expenses or records stemming from your injury.
It is in the best interest of injured workers to talk to an attorney who has experience with workplace injury cases. Employers and their insurance companies look for ways to keep payments they give workers to a minimum. Having an advocate who will fight for their rights ensures that they will not be taken advantage of and that they will be given the compensation that they deserve, including an award for pain and suffering.
If You’ve Been Injured, Contact the Attorneys at Feroleto Law
The Buffalo workplace injury attorneys at Feroleto Law operate on a no-recovery, no-fee basis, meaning that you don’t pay us unless we win your case. We stand up for injured workers to make sure they get the compensation they deserve. Don’t hesitate to schedule a complimentary case analysis with our construction injury attorneys today.
A Deeper Dive Into New York’s Laws
An experienced workplace accident lawyer can advise you whether certain laws providing worker protection may apply in your case. You won’t need to be familiar with the following laws to take legal action. Your attorney will know how to use the law to get you the payment you deserve. But if you’re curious how these laws impact injured workers in New York, here are a few essential details.
Frequently cited are New York State Labor Law Section 240, New York Labor Law Section 240(6), New York State Labor Law Section 200, and the safety regulations provided in the Industrial Code, NYCRR.
New York Labor Law Section 240(1) is often referred to as the “Scaffold Law,” because it requires construction site contractors, property owners and their agents to provide a safe jobsite for construction workers working at a heigh, or who may fall from one level to another. If a failure to provide proper safety equipment is a cause of the fall or injury, the owner, general contractor, or their agents can be sued for failure to provide safety devices or failing to equip the jobsite properly. There are exceptions to Section 240(1). For instance, the law may not apply to owners of one- and two-family homes, the owners who do not control the construction project. You should talk to an experienced construction accident attorney, as the law can be very difficult to interpret.
New York State Labor Law Section 241(6) also places a duty on contractors, property owners and their agents to provide a safe workplace. This duty applies to jobsites where construction, excavation, demolition or certain repair work is being done. The law provides protection to workers and, in addition, other individuals “lawfully frequenting” the job site. Although there may be no duty on the part of a property owner or general contractor under Labor Law Section 240, there may be a duty under Labor Law Section 241(6). The law can be quite confusing.
New York State Labor Law Section 200 is a law similar to what some call “common-law” that is law established by court rulings and decisions over a long period of time. For a lawsuit against an owner or contractor under Labor Law Section 200, the injured worker would be required to show that the owner or general contractor had specific control over the manner in which the work was performed, and the owner or contractor knew of a hazard and failed to take reasonable measures.
The Industrial Code provides very specific regulations as to construction, demolition, jobsite safety, such as proper footing, proper ladder and scaffolding standards, preventing falls, or workers being injured by falling objects, etc. The code is found at 23 NYCRR.
Put John Feroleto to Work on Your Case
The laws protecting injured workers are complex. If you or a loved one has been injured at a job site or construction site and you have questions, talk to an experienced construction accident attorney.
John Feroleto and the attorneys at Feroleto Law have extensive experience in fighting for the rights of injured workers and their families. You can call for a strictly confidential consultation or discussion of your case, with no obligation.