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 212.227.2780.