Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regularly inspects offices, construction sites, and other work environments to help keep employees safe. Employers are expected to take preventative steps to protect their staff. There are several different levels of OSHA violations.

De Minimus

A construction worker holding a piece of wood

This is the least serious of the OSHA violations. De minimus violations include things that don’t have a direct impact on the health or safety of workers. Citations are not issued for these offenses, but they are discussed and resolved verbally.

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Although scaffolding is a necessary part of the many construction projects in New York City, it can increase the risk of falls and other injuries. If you’ve been in an accident related to scaffolding, you may be entitled to compensation. Let’s explore New York’s scaffolding laws and how a personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you deserve.

How Do New York’s Scaffolding Laws Affect My Case?

A person walking under a scaffolding tower
Because there’s an inherent risk in using scaffolding, New York City sets a strict set of safety standards that dictate how scaffolding should be erected and used during construction projects. These standards are put in place to protect workers and pedestrians from injury. If you’ve been hurt in an accident related to scaffolding, it may have been caused because these guidelines weren’t properly followed. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the negligent parties who didn’t follow the safety standards.

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Though there are many safety regulations in the construction industry, accidents still happen. Whether these are due to bad luck or negligence, the factors that caused an injury must be investigated and addressed. Here are a few of the most common injuries construction workers experience.

Falls

Two people on a construction site
As one of OSHA’s “fatal four,” falls are made up of two categories: surface-level and from a height. Falling is the number one cause of fatalities in construction. Areas without protective ledges, like roofs and scaffolding, pose the biggest threat to worker safety.

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Before the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was enacted in 1935, employers could take advantage of employee’s ignorance to deny them rights. It took the intervention of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) to customize the federal policy in such a way that it allows employees to voice concerns. The NLRA allows employees to legalize unions as bargaining chips to have their interests represented. Employees belonging to a union are also allowed to reject it as their representative.

What Does the NLRA Entail?

Two labor workers dressed in uniforms and hardhats

This labor law is clear on how employees should be paid and treated at their workplace, stating that:

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Partner Daniel T. Leav settled a case at private mediation in November 2019, where Leav & Steinberg LLP represented plaintiffs who suffered injuries in an incident that took place in January 2015. The case was handled from the inception to trial prep by partner Daniela F. Henriques.

The Incident That Caused the Injuries

A construction site representing construction accident personal injury attorneys Leav & Steinberg LLP in New York, NYThe plaintiffs, a mother and daughter, were walking on the sidewalk alongside an active construction site in Queens, New York, when a construction wall collapsed and fell onto them, causing them to be knocked to the ground. The project was massive; it was the construction of a 20-family mixed-use building. There was a construction wall to the left of where the plaintiffs were walking on the sidewalk. There was no flagman; there were no cones; there were no barriers; there was no indication that the sidewalk should not be used. As the plaintiffs were walking past the construction site, they were struck by a heavy piece of construction wall that collapsed and fell onto them. The force of the fence caused both plaintiffs to fall and strike the ground. The brunt of the construction wall struck the daughter’s head and she lost consciousness at the scene.

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Many construction workers wonder if they’re entitled to more than just workers’ compensation for injuries they sustain at work. In some circumstances, it is certainly possible and even encouraged to pursue legal claims. While the nature of construction is inherently hazardous, companies are required by law to take specific steps to protect their employees from preventable injury. If it can be proven that your company failed to provide adequate safety or equipment, you may be able to take your case to court.

Negligence and the Duty of Care

A yellow tower crane
Construction job sites involve dozens of entities and individuals, from companies and vendors to engineers and architects, both on-site and off-site. If any of these persons or companies involved had a responsibility to act reasonably and safely toward you and your injury was caused as a result of their failure to do so, an attorney can help you determine if you have a case. Examples of negligence on construction job sites include:

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During the construction phase of 1 World Trade Center, a 44 year-old laborer was caused to slip and fall from a ladder while working.  The ladder was supposed to be fixed with a kicker at the bottom and tied off at the top.  Though the client used the ladder during the morning work session without issue, he claimed that the kicker and tie-off were subsequently removed before he had his accident.  While on the ladder working at a height above, the ladder slipped and he fell approximately 15 feet.

He reported the incident at the scene and was taken home by a co-worker. He returned the next day but could not complete the tasks required of him.  He began to complain of pain to his neck and back.  The injured worker had prior back surgery but it was his position, which we supported with medical evidence and the fact that he returned to work for the last 10 years, that the prior injury had resolved and this new accident resulted in new complaints of pain.

The firm was retained and we immediately spoke with and secured several witnesses who saw the accident and/or the aftermath and would corroborate the client’s version.

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On November 22, 2016, a 6,500 pound I-beam became loose as it was hoisted into place at a construction site in Briarwood, Queens.  The I-beam fell four stories, killing a crane operator and a flag man.  A link with more information about the accident can be found here.  New York City has many laws and safety regulations which protect workers and other individuals at and near construction sites.

Despite such laws, those in the construction industry, often working within tight time and financial constraints, push the limits of those laws and of safe construction.  This can often result in tragedy.

When choosing a law firm to represent someone killed during construction, the surviving members of the family must consider all aspects of the firm’s background, experience, ability to take the case to trial as well and most importantly the firm’s reputations among the defense and insurance industry.

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A construction worker died on Wednesday, October 26th after falling off scaffolding into a 35 foot deep wastewater tank in Brooklyn.

The accident took place at Coney Island Water Pollution Control facility on Knapp St. near Voorhies Ave. in Gravesend. Emergency workers rushed to the scene after receiving a call at 12:34 p.m. about the construction worker’s fall.

Two FDNY divers found the 31 year old construction worker, Michael Buffamante, at the bottom of the tank and pulled him out of the water. Rescue workers thereafter unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate Buffamante, who was in cardiac arrest. He later died at the hospital.

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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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