A New York construction accident lawyer from Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. understands that accidents at construction sites are, unfortunately, common and can cause life-altering injuries. Burns, concussions, and major fractures often result from construction accidents. If you or a loved one has experienced such an injury, you know that the results affect not only your well-being but also your livelihood.
In a situation like this, consulting with a lawyer from our law firm can be a major weight off of your shoulders. Filing a claim in order to seek damages for your injuries and suffering can do a great deal in helping you recover from the accident.
When you’re ready to work with a lawyer who can help you get the compensation you deserve, be sure to contact Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. immediately. We have more than 20 years of legal experience fighting for accident victims and will do our utmost to seek justice for you.
Preventing Construction Site Injuries in New York
In the United States, hundreds of construction workers suffer fatal injuries each year while they are on the job — and hundreds more sustain injuries that are permanent, disabling, or life-threatening. Falls are the most common cause of fatalities in construction; they account for approximately one out of every three construction worker deaths. When it comes to non-fatal injuries, the four primary causes are falls, “caught-in” incidents, “struck-by” accidents, and electrocution. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that construction sites are rife with opportunities for any of these accidents to occur.
Although workers compensation can cover these injuries, New York employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace, protective equipment, and training for all employees. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), a federal agency in charge of workplace safety in the United States, have outlined worksite requirements for all sorts of industries, including the construction industry. Some of these requirements include:
- Vehicle alarms for moving in reverse: Employers must have alarms for commercial vehicles that will sound when the vehicle is driving in reverse. Many vehicles and driveable heavy machinery already have these alarms, but if not, the project manager is required to install them.
- Swinging cranes: There must be temporary barricades for swinging cranes, with at least three inches of caution tape, to prevent workers from coming too close to the machinery. Crane or superstructure movement should only occur when an “ all clear” signal is given.
- Bridge decking: Employers provide harnesses or safety nets to construction workers working on heights of 15 feet or higher.
- Fixed scaffolds: OSHA standards also require employers to provide pump jack scaffolds to construction workers working on scaffolds higher than 10 feet above a lower level.
Many safety measures can be customized to fit the needs of each construction site. Although you might assume that large construction sites pose the biggest risk, even small sites in New York can have plenty of hazards for workers.
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that fault isn’t an issue with workers compensation. It’s possible for an accident to occur even if your employer has taken all necessary precautions. If you’ve been injured on a construction site and you plan to file a workers comp claim, you might still want to contact a construction accident lawyer for guidance.
If you were injured on a construction site and you aren’t directly employed by the business managing the project, you may want to speak with our team about filing a lawsuit instead. Contractors and subcontractors often find that they aren’t covered by workers compensation. If this is the case, a construction accident lawyer may be able to help you file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your losses.
Construction work is one of the most dangerous jobs when it comes to work injuries and fatalities. Workers are at a greater risk of being injured or killed in fall accidents because they are often working at high heights. Just one small slip can result in fatal injuries.
According to national statistics from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of construction site accidents, causing almost 40 percent of all construction site fatalities each year. OSHA is the government agency that is responsible for the oversight of safe work environments and making sure that employers are properly training their employees in safety.
Common Causes of Construction Site Fall Accidents
Unfortunately, construction site fall accidents are far too common. The reality is that many of these accidents are preventable if employers only followed safety procedures and provide their workers with the proper training and equipment. It is not uncommon to discover in a construction site fall accident investigation that the employer violated OSHA safety rules, most often by failing to provide protection against falls or failing to provide the required scaffolding per OSHA requirements. If any of these most common reasons for construction accidents has happened to you, then it’s time to meet with a construction accident lawyer:
- Lack of safety training for workers so they are aware of the hazards that exist on the job and how to properly and safely operate equipment
- Lack of safety equipment for workers, such as covers, guardrails, and fall protection systems
- Hazardous working conditions, such as scaffolding in poor condition, unprotected building sides, and debris around worksite
OSHA does have stringent safety standards that construction companies are supposed to have in place on construction sites. These include guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems. Areas where these systems need to be in place include:
- Around dangerous equipment
- Edges and sides of buildings
- Excavation areas
- Hoist areas
When falls do occur, the injuries are often serious to catastrophic, especially if the worker was working at high heights. Some of the more common injuries workers suffer in construction accident falls are:
- Brain injuries
- Permanent disabilities
- Severe abrasions
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injuries
Have You Been Injured in a Construction Site Fall Accident?
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A construction site fall accident can forever change the victim’s life. Depending on how severe the fall was, the victim could be left with permanent disabilities and unable to do construction work anymore. The financial impact this can have on a family can be devastating, especially if he or she was the primary breadwinner for the family.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the victim may be able to recover financial compensation either through a workers’ compensation claim or through a personal injury lawsuit. Call Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our construction accident lawyers to determine which legal option is best for your particular situation.
How a New York Construction Accident Lawyer Can Help
Having a construction accident lawyer in your corner can be the difference between resolving what’s happened to you and losing time and money trying to recover on your own. An experienced lawyer will know how to navigate your case and the insurance company, and in so doing determine the best way to cover your current and future medical expenses, as well as any wages or income that you’ve lost.
Crucially, the person you choose as your legal representative will be able to serve you in the situation someone who represents either your employer or an insurance company brings you a settlement offer. Having the attorney review that offer is important because the terms of the settlement could possibly not be in your best interest.
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What to Consider When Hiring a Lawyer
The initial consultation with the construction accident attorney you’re considering should be a time wherein you get to ask all of the questions you have. Determining whether the attorney in question has the experience and skills to take on your case is vital. He or she should be familiar with the following areas:
- Negligence, and how it applies to your case
- Product liability laws, if applicable
- Workers compensation
- Navigating insurance and healthcare companies
- Preparing and settling a personal injury case
Coming to the consultation with as many details about your case as possible is just as important. Be sure you are prepared with information about how the construction accident occurred, what kinds of injuries you obtained, and the extent of your financial losses. Other records and information you could bring to your consultation with a construction accident lawyer could include:
- Photos of the accident scene and your injuries
- Medical records and bills
- Your employment contract and relevant paperwork
By becoming familiar with this information, the construction accident lawyer you choose can better determine whether the two of you will be a good fit for another, and how best to proceed with your case.
Preexisting Conditions and Workers’ Compensation
An incident at work has left your knee in pain once again. You already dealt with a significant injury to that knee years ago, and here you are again. However, when you go to file a workers’ compensation claim and reveal you had a prior incident involving the knee, the carrier may put the brakes on administering benefits. Find out why this happens and what, if anything, can be done with a preexisting condition.
What Is Considered a Preexisting Injury?
When you suffer an injury to a body part, it may never return to full and normal function. Even if it gets close to fully healed through treatment, it may be susceptible to re-injury due to weakness. When you get hurt at work in the same vicinity of this prior injury, it may cause the already weakened area of the body to be injured again. The problem with a workers’ comp claim to an area with a preexisting condition is determining whether the accident caused a worsening of the preexisting injury or if the prior condition contributed to the work incident.
Was the Prior Injury Also Work-Related?
If it was a prior work-related injury, you might have an easier time getting the aggravation covered. This is due in large part to previous medical reporting within the workers’ compensation system and the finding of disability. Once the doctor felt you reached maximum medical improvement or MMI, they issued a report detailing how much better you are and how much use you recovered. Having this information can help the current treating physician decide the difference in the preexisting injury and the new one. Thus making it easier to determine how much of the current accident contributed to a worsening of the prior condition.
Is an Aggravation Covered Under Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Depending on the state where you live, aggravation to an existing condition or injury may be covered, or it may be more of a fight. Depending on the documentation of the prior injury and the events of the current accident, you may find yourself facing the possibility that the workers’ comp carrier blames the preexisting condition for the current one. For example, if you suffered a knee injury in the past, it may have substantially weakened the stability of the knee. That instability may be to blame for your all off the ladder or trip on the steps leading up to the office.
Dealing with a workers’ compensation carrier with a previous injury may be difficult. It’s a good idea to consult with a NY construction accident lawyer from Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for help in getting through the process.
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Complex Time Requirements for Collecting Workers’ Compensation
If you sustain a serious injury at work that prevents you from doing your job for a significant amount of time, you are generally eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. However, your employer is not required to compensate you for relatively minor injuries that do not keep you out of work. Therefore, the amount of time that you spend away from work determines your eligibility to collect benefits.
In a nutshell, you become eligible for compensation after you have been out of work for seven days. However, the matter is much more complex than that.
If you require medical treatment for your injuries, you can claim compensation for these expenses after you have been out of work for seven days. These benefits are retroactive to the date of your injury. The seven-day requirement includes weekends, and the days do not have to be consecutive. For example, if you are off from work to recover from your injury, then you perform light duty for several days, then go back to the doctor for more treatment for your injury, losing several days in the process, you are eligible for compensation for your medical bills as soon as your cumulative days off from work due to the injury add up to seven.
The same seven-day time limit applies to lost wages. Once you are out for seven days, you are eligible to collect compensation for any time you miss from work going forward. You do not automatically collect retroactive pay for the initial seven days that you missed. However, once you have been out of work for 14 days, you can then collect pay for the first seven days retroactively.
Return to Work
You must typically return to work as soon as your doctor deems that you are able. However, your doctor may also place restrictions on your work activities, so you may not return to your full duties right away. Such restrictions may include decreased working hours or prohibitions on certain tasks Depending on the seriousness of your injuries, the restrictions may be permanent. Your employer has the responsibility to make any reasonable accommodations possible to facilitate your return to work. If you return to work under such restrictions, you may still be eligible to receive compensation benefits.
The regulations that govern workers’ compensation can be very confusing. One of our attorneys may be able to explain the benefits that you have a right to claim in your situation. To schedule an initial consultation, contact our office.
Suing Your Employer: When It’s Possible
Deciding when to sue your employer is a question that a construction accident lawyer in New York is often faced with, and the answer depends on your particular circumstances. When you get injured during an accident at work, you probably want to make sure you’re covered by your employer. Usually, this means getting compensated through a workers’ comp claim. However, you may want to take things a step further and sue your employer. There are times you can bring a lawsuit against them, but it can be difficult to do depending on your situation. Here’s how suing your employer works and if you can do it.
When It’s Impossible to Sue
Workers’ compensation is a huge factor when it comes to lawsuits against employers. The biggest incentive for an employer to take out workers’ comp insurance for their employees is so that they cannot be sued. Injuries at work that can be claimed are considered no-fault, which means that the employee gets coverage regardless of who caused the injury. If the employer was responsible, they are protected from lawsuits by the insurance. This is why New York construction accident lawyers know that workers’ comp is often a win-win for employees and employers.
When You Can Sue
There are some scenarios when suing your employer is entirely possible. For example, if your employer has no workers’ comp coverage, they are not protected by its benefits and you can sue them for losses if they were negligent. You may also sue them, even if they have insurance, if they ignored and refused to report your claim, intentionally injured you, acted with severe negligence or disregarded safety guidelines, or manufactured a faulty product. Independent contractors have the option of suing, too, as contractors are not employees of a business and therefore do not qualify for the insurance. An experienced New York construction accident lawyer can help you figure out whether you are an employee or independent contractor and assess whether suing your employer is in your best interests.
When You Should Ask a Lawyer
Not all cases are black and white. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to know whether you can sue your employer or not, especially if they have insurance to cover your injury costs. Getting injured off work premises while you were running an errand for your boss can be a seriously gray area: technically, you were working, but you weren’t at work. Does that count? You may run into other gray areas, which is why it’s important to gather evidence about your injury at the time it occurs. Photos, notes and witness statements can help you make a claim and run the situation past a lawyer if you think something is wrong. A lawyer can help you understand how your claim works and determine if a lawsuit is the right way to go. When you consult a construction accident lawyer from Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C., our firm’s aggressive, professional, and compassionate legal team will fight for you.
A Construction Accident Lawyer NYC Clients Turn to for Help
After a construction accident upends your life, it’s best not to delay. Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. is a personal injury law firm that can work with you to find the right construction accident attorney to take on your case. We have over 20 years of experience fighting for the justice that accident victims deserve. If a family member or loved one was involved in a construction site accident and was wrongfully killed, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.