Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

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Ladder accident
On August 10, 2012, while climbing down a ladder at work our client was caused to fall when the ladder tipped over as a result of being placed on wet Masonite. On the date of the accident the client was a 33 year old non-union electrical worker.  He left the job site by cab but upon arriving home he was in such excruciating pain he went to the Emergency Room.  He was admitted and diagnosed with a fracture to his pelvis and a herniation to his lower back.  The client tried to treat conservatively with physical therapy.  In February of 2013 the client attempted to return to work but due to his pain he was forced to go back out on Workers Compensation.   A former client of Leav & Steinberg, who knew the plaintiff from the neighborhood was discussing his accident and pointed out that he should speak with an attorney and recommended Leav & Steinberg given the success we had for him in the past.  After this meeting, the client contacted our office and retained us.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP immediately filed a lawsuit alleging Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 241(6), specifically Rule 23 Section 1-21(b)(4)(ii). Over the course of the next two years the client was required to undergo two surgeries; (1) for a torn labrum in his hip and (2) a lumbar fusion in order to stabilize the vertebrae at L4-5.  Leav & Steinberg, LLP completed discovery and had the matter placed on the trail calendar less than 3 years after the date of accident.  The parties participated in Mediation where an offer of $1,500,000.00 was made.  Upon the legal advice of Leav & Steinberg, LLP this offer was rejected by the client.  A motion was also made by Daniela F. Henriques, Esq., for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability pursuant to Labor Law Section 240(1).  The motion was still pending on the date of the settlement.  The defendants’ position on the motion was that the accident was caused solely by the decision of the plaintiff to use equipment that was not safe and not secured.

In light of the fact that the trial was scheduled for October, 2016, the defendant’s again requested that we participate in a second non-binding mediation.   They further argued that the client had made a good recovery and that his work history was sporadic.  In addition, they argued that given his intelligence and other skills he could return to employment and earn an equal salary; even if not as an electrician.

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Earlier today, a crane collapsed across the span of the Tappan Zee Bridge resulting in injuries to at least three people as they swerved to avoid fallen debris. The crane collapse has caused a shutdown of the outdated and structurally insufficient bridge wreaking havoc on traffic in the area. The bridge is closed indefinitely.

The crane was being used in the construction efforts of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The construction project, a $4 billion endeavor, has already seen several other major incidents resulting in deaths. In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members. In 2013, a powerboat plowed into a construction barge at the bridge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man.

There has been no shortage in crane accidents in the recent past, and despite the high stakes of these construction projects and the obvious need for safety, these accidents continue to happen. The engineers and contractors who are responsible for the placement, operation, management, inspection and control of these cranes must uphold their duty to ensure that these types of accidents don’t occur.

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Worker
At Leav & Steinberg, LLP we are often retained by construction workers who are injured during the course of construction, demolition or excavation work.  Under various sections of the Labor Law of New York, a worker in injured has  many legal rights and remedies to pursue to recover for pain and suffering as well as past and future loss wages.  In addition, as many times the injuries are life altering and permanent; often requiring future medical care.   For these select cases, our firm seeks to recover damages for the future medical cost the client will need.  In our ongoing effort to maximize a client’s recover, establishing a Life Care Plan for their future medical costs will allow us to negotiate a successful settlement and at trial to present competent evidence of these expenses so a jury can award both fair and adequately compensation.

The recovery of future medical expenses may seem both obvious and not necessary. Some lawyers might tell their client, not to worry they have Workers’ Compensation benefits and will or can use that for future medical care.  Others might say that the client’s private health insurance will cover them after the case is settled.  Lastly, as many client’s with permanent injuries apply for Social Security Disability which comes with both a monthly economic payment as well as Medicare, the attorney or firm will lead client to believe he or she can use Medicare and have no worries.   All the above are incorrect and without proper planning, presentation and obtaining the requisite proof a client can be without proper medial coverage for his or her accident related injuries.

The reason the options just mentioned are wrong and would lead the client to a false sense of security is because there are various laws, both State and Federal that state how a client, in a construction accident, can and should prepare and protect for future medical care.  Under present law in New York, when a client settles his or her third party lawsuit (that is a suit against someone other than their employer) while injured on the job, their Workers’ Compensation benefits usually end.  The reason is that under Section 29 of the Workers Compensation Law, a compensation carrier, is allowed to take a credit for the net award the client/employee receives from the third party case.  This credit creates a “holiday” in which the compensation carrier is not obligated to make payments.  For example: if an injured party settles a third-party case and nets after attorney fees, expenses and liens, $300,000.00, workers compensation will not have to pay this client any compensation benefits until he has used up that $300,000.00.  So if he was getting $30,000.00 a year in benefits at the time of settlement, he will not get compensation benefits for 10 years.  At that point the client can apply for benefits to continue but often has reached a certain age, passed away or is no longer entitled to benefits.   So advising a client that he can keep getting compensation benefits for medical is not going to be correct.

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Spine
One of the most common injuries sustained by those involved in an accident is a back or neck injury.  Many consider these “soft tissue” injuries and the term has been used by insurance companies to diminish the significance of the injury.

In fact, a disc injury which is really a connective tissue injury can be more debilitating and significant than a fracture to a bone.  A fracture can often heal and or calcify.  A disc injury to the spine will never return to the anatomic design it was in before the trauma.

Simply put a herniated disc is a rupture to the intervertebral discs that separate the vertebrae running from the base of our skull to our coccyx or sacrum.  In all we have 33 discs and they act as shock absorbers for the body.  They allow the spine to move, bend, function in a normal way.

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This morning, a terrible tragedy occurred as a crane collapsed in TriBeCa around 8:30 A.M. Early reports indicate that at least one person has been fatally injured, and two others have sustained serious injuries.

The massive crane, operated by Bay Crane, now lays down the path of Worth Street stretching from West Broadway to Church Street.

It appears the crane was working on 60 Hudson Street, a longtime industrial building undergoing renovation to luxury apartments. The crane was parked on Worth Street.

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On October 30, 2015, at approximately 10:38AM, the building under construction at 25 West 38th Street, New York, New York collapsed, resulting in the death of a laborer. There were about 19 workers inside the building that was in the process of being demolished in order to start construction on a luxury hotel at the site. The injured laborer and the body of the killed worked remained trapped underneath the partially collapsed building while emergency workers tried to reach them. The two top floors collapsed and the workers were trapped inside. Reports indicate the support wall collapsed falling directly onto the workers. Their efforts were hampered as the construction site was not stable and needed to be shored up.

Labor Law § 240(1), a New York State statute, imposes upon owners and general contractors a non-delegable duty to provide proper and adequate safety devices to afford protection to construction workers working on a building or structure subject to elevation-related hazards. No matter how stringent the safety standards are in New York regarding construction, all construction laborers are at risk every single day while on the job.

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On February 26, 2014 eight construction workers were injured in a construction accident when the three story building, located at 1916 Prospect Place in Brooklyn, collapsed. The workers were inside the building, on the third floor, when it collapsed, causing them to plummet to the first floor.

These construction workers were sent inside the building, despite numerous open violations with the New York City Department of Buildings, which indicated the hazardous condition of the building. At the time of the accident, according to the records of the New York City Department of Buildings, the property located at 1916 Prospect Place had sixteen open violations issued by the Department of Buildings, as well as over $80,000 in unpaid fines issued as a result of these violations. Of these sixteen open violations eight were listed with a class – 1 severity, indicating that the violation was immediately hazardous.

In New York, a property owner can be held liable for injuries caused by an allegedly defective condition, if the owner either creates the defective condition, or has actual or constructive notice of the condition. This means a property owner can be held liable for injuries caused by defective conditions which the owner either knew about, or should have known about.

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Creepy crawlies belong outside, not in houses. People try many different methods to discourage bugs from entering their homes, whether it be a house or an apartment. There are many products one can use to kill bugs and keep them out of the home. But these products contain a lot of chemicals and can harm humans as much as bugs. And one needs to be cautious because these chemicals are highly flammable, as was shown in the fogger explosion in Chinatown recently.

Exploding Bug Bombs

A woman had a problem with bugs infesting her apartment. She purchased foggers, also known as bug bombs, to deal with the problem. Foggers release a fine mist of chemicals into the air that will filter into walls and small places to kill bugs. “A single six-ounce can is enough to treat 6,000 cubic feet of space, which translates roughly to an 800-square-foot apartment with a seven-foot ceiling.”

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Over the past year, jobsite injuries have been regularly making the news. According to the New York Daily News, it turns out that workplace accidents actually increased in New York by 31 percent from 2011 to 2012, while the New York Buildings Department cut its number of worksite inspections by nearly 40 percent in the past three years. An article in PR Web echoed these figures, calling for more oversight in the construction industry. What do these numbers mean for you? If you or someone you know works in the construction industry, it turns out that jobsites may not be as safe as we’d like to think.

What Sparked the Investigation into Jobsite Accidents?

The New York Daily News introduced concerns about jobsite-accident increases by summarizing some of the newsworthy injuries over the past year.

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The drilling industry maintains that fracking is harmless to water supply, but scientific studies, including an old one by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), show otherwise. Fracking is the procedure whereby water, sand, and/or toxic chemicals are imbued to the ground to break up rocks and release natural gas. For years, settlements between landowners and energy companies have been sealed, making it impossible for the public to analyze documents which may show many more instances of water contamination by fracking than already discerned.

The EPA study revolves around contamination discovered in 1984 in West Virginia, on the property of Mr. James Parsons. The Kaiser Exploration and Mining Company used hydraulic fracturing fluids or gels that were ultimately found in Mr. Parson’s water well, along with natural gas. The water was rendered unusable. Though the American Petroleum Institute conceded this was a case of water contamination due to fracking, a spokesman averred that the important factor in that case was that the driller and regulator did not know about the nearby aquifer. Other scientific studies have found that patterns of fracking contamination can aggregate so severely that a faucet can be lit on fire, or a home or water well may blow up after gas seeps into the basement or water supply. The drilling industry and some state regulators described these other adverse fracking incidents as anecdotal, unconnected to drilling activity, or an isolated problem.

The oil and gas industry claims fracking is safe because the process occurs thousands of feet below drinking water aquifers. The Chief Executive of ExxonMobil has gone so far as to say at a Congressional hearing: “There have been over a million wells hydraulically fractured in the history of the industry, and there is not one, not one, reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing. Not one”. Clearly this is contrary to the EPA finding, which was published in 1987, as well as other documented instances in New York, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.