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Jaroslawicz & Jaros PLLC
Call or email to schedule a free consultation.
212-227-2780 800-269-2780
Free transportation can be provided.
Jaroslawicz & Jaros PLLC

Construction's infamous fatal four, with examples

The construction industry is infamous for its accidents, and the so-called "Fatal Four" lead the way year after year. They're so prevalent that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has special programs just for safety training in these four areas.

How do I prevent accidents at a construction site?

Working on a construction site is inherently dangerous, even for the safest of workers. Employees can take safety into their own hands each time they set foot onto the site in an effort to prevent accidents. So, how can you prevent accidents at your construction site?

Scaffolding Falls Strike Again

Falls remain one of the most common construction site accidents leading to injury or accidental death. Unfortunately, such an accident claimed the life of a 62-year-old construction worker working at the Hudson Yards on June 5. The man fell 10 stories when the 16th floor platform he had been working on gave way. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Ironically, he had been working to build a "cocooning system," which is designed to help prevent falls.

Does a Construction Boom Mean Worker Doom?

Q: Has a decrease in safety inspections caused an increase in New York construction accident cases? Like a parade of pallbearers, construction workers gathered recently at a non-union construction site carrying black coffin-shaped boxes on their shoulders to insist on better safety measures on New York City's construction sites. The rally was at least partially in response to the progressive decline in safety inspections and the corresponding jump in construction-related fatalities both in New York City and in New York State as a whole. A recent report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health for the period 2011-2015 found the following pertinent statistical trends:

Another New York City Crushing Crane Accident

Q: Who is responsible for personal injuries or death in a construction accident?

If you've ever wandered the streets of New York City and the surrounding boroughs, you'll notice construction on every corner...from scaffolding along the sidewalks to gigantic cranes hoisting heavy materials high overhead. Construction work is inherently dangerous. Construction accidents may give rise to numerous claims and lawsuits, depending on the particular circumstances. A skilled construction accident attorney has extensive knowledge and experience in this complex area of law in which the doctrines of personal injury, wrongful death, and Workers' Compensation ("Workers' Comp") often overlap. When an employee is injured on the job, s/he is entitled to Workers' Comp benefits. Workers' Comp covers the employee's medical expenses for treatment and rehabilitation related to the injuries suffered in the workplace accident. In addition, Workers' Comp will pay a percentage of the worker's weekly wage (based on a particular formula). However, Workers Comp benefits do not compensate for the worker's pain and suffering. Can a worker injured on a construction site recover pain and suffering damages and compensation for all their lost past and future income and medical needs? Fortunately, the complex field of construction accident law enables an injured worker to also sue one or more third parties who may be liable for his or her injuries. Owners, architects, equipment manufacturers, general contractors, subcontractors and supervisors could shoulder some of the blame if safety rules and regulations were not followed or if a defective or dangerous product was involved. There are countless examples of dangerous products including scaffolding, cranes, power tools, bulldozers, forklifts, boilers, and other construction equipment. Recently two workers were killed in a crane accident in Queens, New York when a 6,500 pound beam that a crane was lifting came loose and crushed not only the crane operator in the cab but also a flagman on the ground. An investigation will look into many factors to determine which parties may be liable for the accident and the resulting injuries. One factor to consider would be whether or not it was safe to operate the crane that day with winds gusting at more than 40 miles an hour and whether wind was a factor in the accident. New regulations for crane operations on windy days were enacted in response to a prior deadly crane collapse last winter which was blamed in part on strong winds. Another theory is that a "rigging failure" may have sent the beam crashing to the ground. Had they survived, the crane operator and flagman could have pursued Workers' Comp claims and personal injury lawsuits for their serious injuries. Since they died from their injuries, certain close relatives may be entitled to recover compensatory damages under a wrongful death claim, depending on the particular circumstances. Wrongful death damages may include funeral expenses, the medical costs associated with the accident, lost income/support of relatives who relied on the victim for financial support, and more. Each construction accident case, whether for personal injury or wrongful death, is unique and requires careful evaluation by an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros in New York City have extensive experience in construction accident cases and have obtained many multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of injured construction workers, including a record-breaking $44 million verdict for one worker. If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, call Jaroslawicz & Jaros for a free consultation at 800.269.2780.

Manhattan DA Pursuing Construction Site Cases

What is being done about construction accidents in New York? There is a construction boom going on in New York City that can be plainly seen by the construction cranes that have become part of the city's skyline. That's the good news. The bad news is that there has also been spike in construction accidents that have resulted in injuries and death to construction workers. In response, the Manhattan district attorney's office has been bringing criminal charges against builders who have violated safety laws or failed to report site-injuries. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. recently said that the construction boom has created an environment where builders have cut corners. Even worse, a multi-agency task force formed last year has revealed fraudulent safety inspections, bribery and other crimes that have contributed to creating unsafe conditions. These crimes have been the basis for a number of cases brought by the district attorney's office. As we recently reported, Harco Construction LLC was convicted of manslaughter in the death of an immigrant worker in a construction site trench collapse. The case set a precedent for finding that a general contractor or a firm managing a project could be held criminally liable for a worker's death even though that individual was working directly for a subcontractor. While attorneys for Harco believe the verdict will be overturned on appeal, that case and the ongoing efforts by the DA to prosecute these cases, have sent shockwaves through the construction industry. Although construction work is inherently dangerous, Harco and other similarly situated firms may have trouble doing business in the city as they have been labeled "bad actors." The overarching issue is the nature of the relationship between companies, contractors and subcontractors, and which is ultimately liable for worker injuries and deaths. This comes against the backdrop of the amount of new construction in the city where there was 92 million feet in 2105, compared to 19 million in 2011. During this time, the number of accidents tripled, resulting in 5 deaths already this year. In addition to trench collapses, construction sites have been plagued by fires, explosions, crane collapses, and a wide range of other accidents. While the district attorney's office should be lauded for its efforts to pursue bad actors for safety violations, injured workers also have powerful legal recourse - a personal injury lawsuit. If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident, you should engage the services of a personal injury attorney.

Harco Trench Collapse Verdict Sets New Standard

What is being done to prevent construction site deaths in New York City?

With the guilty verdict for manslaughter against Harco Construction related to a trench collapse earlier this year in New York City, the Manhattan District Attorney will now have more leverage to rely on criminal prosecutions in construction site deaths. The case arose from the death of an undocumented immigrant worker, who was employed by Long Island-based Sky Materials, in a trench collapse. The worker was buried alive when an unsupported 14 foot deep trench caved in. Both companies were charged in the incident, and a trial involving Sky Materials is pending. According to reports, both companies failed to heed warnings of the potential hazards by safety inspectors.  In addition to manslaughter, Harco was also found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and three counts of reckless endangerment. During the trial, the company argued that the excavation subcontractor was responsible for the collapse, and that Harco, as general contractor, could not oversee every aspect of Sky's work. The judge disagreed, however, finding Harco criminally negligent. "Today's guilty verdict should signal to the construction industry that managing a project from afar does not insulate a corporation or general contractor from criminal liability," said Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. Some observers believe the verdict against Harco could lead to a new and stricter standard for criminal liability for construction site accidents. This was also hailed as a victory for immigrant workers that will lead to greater safety standards. A variety of advocacy groups supporting undocumented workers had protested in front of the courthouse during the trial, calling for Harco to be convicted. Undocumented Workers Injured in Construction Accidents The nature of construction work is dangerous, and many workers are seriously injured in accidents such as cave-ins. While these accidents are often the basis of personal injury lawsuits, a criminal conviction like this case is rare. The challenge in these cases is determining which party is at fault since a typical project involves property owners, contractors and subcontractors, manufacturers and suppliers. In the end, the use of undocumented workers on construction sites in New York City is far more common than many people realize. These workers have rights, however, and undocumented construction workers who are injured in construction accidents may be able to sue for damages. It remains to be seen whether the victim's family will pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In the meantime, a company that fails to provide a safe working environment at a construction site can be found negligent. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a construction accident you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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