It’s hard to drive around the Hudson Valley or open one of the local newspapers without reading about new construction taking place. There are barely enough subcontractors and workers available to fill the demand, and unfortunately, corners can get cut sometimes, resulting in serious injuries for workers, including roofers, laborers, and iron and steel workers. Construction sites can also be home to truck drivers, carpenters, painters, electricians, managers, and equipment operators who also can find themselves the victims of a serious workplace accident.
Even among construction workers, there are lots of misconceptions as to the rights injury victims have to obtain financial compensation after an accident. At Mainetti & Mainetti we’ve been practicing personal injury law in the Kingston and Poughkeepsie communities for decades, and have had great success navigating the complicated and fact specific area of law that governs accidents that occur on construction sites.
Work on a construction site often includes great heights and heavy machinery carrying heavy materials. When something goes wrong, a worker can suffer catastrophic injuries. This can lead to sky high medical bills while the worker is unable to do their job and make a living. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury on the job, especially in the field of commercial construction, give us a call at (845) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation.
1. Most construction personal injury cases involve “the effects of gravity”
ALL workplace injuries deserve scrutiny and understanding, but workers involved in commercial construction accidents where gravity played a factor may have additional legal status. Some examples of gravity accidents could be falling from ladders or scaffolding, or an object falling onto a worker from above.
If a worker is injured on the job, it’s possible that they could obtain worker’s compensation or file a negligence claim, but a case where the effects of gravity play a role in bringing about an injury can result in a worker being afforded additional protections under New York State’s Labor Law.
2. The general contractor and property owner (and their insurance companies) can both be held responsible
On commercial construction sites, property owners and general contractors are often required to carry significant amounts of insurance, and they have a duty under New York State’s Labor Law to provide a safe work environment for all subcontractors and their workers. While the general contractor is most directly responsible for the work environment and equipment, it is also possible under the Labor Law for the owner of a non-commercial property (i.e. a home) to be held responsible if they had some hand in exercising direction and control over how the work is being performed or in creating unsafe conditions.
Under the New York State Labor Law, if the effects of gravity are involved in causing an injury on a commercial construction site, it’s possible that a general contractor and/or property owner can be considered 100% at fault, even if the subcontractor or worker may have contributed to their accident. It’s up to the general contractor and property owner to make sure that all of the appropriate equipment is available and functioning, that it is properly placed and that all work is being conducted in a safe fashion. This level of liability is part of the business, and it’s why general contractors and landowners carry so much insurance.
It’s also possible that an equipment manufacturer can be held liable if an accident took place due to negligently designed or made machinery.
Mainetti & Mainetti is proud to have obtained millions of dollars for injured construction workers.
3. If you’re in an accident, workers compensation may not be enough
Workers compensation is usually the sole remedy in the wake of an accident if you are injured on the job or injured by your employer or co-worker. However this is not always the case. There are exceptions to this rule, and more perhaps more importantly, many times injured workers simply assume that they can only receive workers compensation if they are hurt at work. In reality, it is very possible that there are avenues to pursue negligence claims against third parties or to take advantage of the protections afforded under the Labor Law of the State of New York.
4. Labor law mostly applies to commercial construction, with some exceptions
Workers on a residential project usually aren’t provided the same protections under New York Labor Law as workers on a commercial job. The mere fact that you are hurt while working on a residential property does not bar a recovery under the Labor Law. There are some ways where a worker can still be covered under the protections of the Labor Law, even when at first glance it would appear unreachable. One scenario where it is possible to reach the protections afforded by the Labor Law even when you are injured on a residential property such as a single family or multi family home would be if that work is being used to further some commercial purpose. In other words, if you are hurt fixing up a home that the homeowner is merely going to “flip” and never live in, the Labor Law considers that a commercial use of the property, and the protections of the Labor Law can be imposed. It is also possible for a worker to be protected under the Labor Law if the owner of the residential home is acting as a general contractor, directing and controlling the work of the contractors he/she has hired.
Read more about our successful settlements, including one case where we obtained $715,000 for an injured construction worker.
5. The statute of limitations is three years; but act quickly
If you or a loved one has been injured while on the job, the statute of limitations to file suit is three years, but the quicker you act, the easier it’ll be to collect evidence and eyewitness statements. Over time, memories may fade, surveillance footage may disappear, or you may lose track of medical paperwork, which can add layers of complication to obtaining compensation.
6. If you’re not sure, get a free consultation
You have nothing to lose by meeting with us for a free consultation. A lawsuit isn’t always the right route, but we’re happy to listen and point members of our community in the right direction. Call us today at (845) 600-0000 to start the process.