Construction accident victims are often left wondering where to turn for help. The workers’ compensation system is complex–and sometimes doesn’t give you enough compensation to make ends meet. At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., our experienced New York City personal injury lawyers are here to help.
Below are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about NYC construction accidents. To get more specific information, give our New York City construction accident lawyers a call for a free consultation today.
Who is responsible for making sure the construction site is safe?
New York Labor Laws place primary responsibility on the property owner and general contractor. Section 200 requires these parties to make sure you have the proper equipment for the job. It’s also their responsibility to make sure the job site and the equipment you’re using are reasonably safe.
I was hurt in a scaffolding accident. Are there any laws to protect me?
Yes. New York Labor Law Section 240 protects NYC workers injured in scaffolding accidents and falls from heights. Property owners and general contractors are required to provide the proper safety gear for working on a scaffold. The scaffolding must be installed in accordance with relevant safety standards and all hoists, harnesses and safety gear must be maintained in safe condition. These safety standards are also recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Can I sue my employer if I was hurt on the job?
You usually can’t sue your employer for workplace injuries. The New York workers’ compensation system is designed to replace your rights under general personal injury law.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule–but they are relatively rare. For example, if your employer was not carrying the required workers’ compensation insurance, you may be entitled to sue for damages.
What does workers’ compensation cover if I was hurt in a construction accident?
Most employees who were hurt on the job have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits. New York workers’ compensation benefits are limited. They cover your medical expenses and about two-thirds of your average weekly wages before the accident.
Benefits are limited because they are subject to restrictions. For example, you might have to see a doctor that your employer selects. The amount of wage replacement benefits you can receive is limited by a weekly cap.
The trade-off is that you don’t have to show that someone was negligent to get these benefits. Even if you’re claiming benefits, speak with a personal injury attorney about the possibility of suing for additional damages. This gives you the best chance of getting the money you need.
Is workers’ compensation the only way to get compensation if I was hurt in a construction accident?
Not always. While you give up the right to sue your employer, you don’t give up the right to sue third parties. If someone who wasn’t related to your employer caused the accident, they can be held accountable in court.
For example, if a driver crashed a car into the construction site and you were hurt, you can sue the person who caused the car accident.
Whether you can sue depends on who and what caused the construction accident. Potentially liable parties may include:
- Property owners
- General contractors
- The manufacturer or designer of defective equipment or tools
- Third-party vendors
- Utility companies
- Government agencies
If you can prove that a third party’s negligence caused your injuries, they can be held responsible for compensation.
If I was hurt in a construction accident and am collecting workers’ compensation, can I still sue?
Yes. Receiving workers’ compensation benefits does not mean that you give up your right to file a third-party claim against a negligent party.
How do I know who was responsible for the construction accident?
You might not. Construction workers who are injured on the job often don’t know exactly who was responsible for the accident. The skill of your accident attorney is important to finding out who was responsible.
After we speak with you, our lawyers will begin a full investigation into what caused your accident. This might include:
- Speaking with witnesses
- Visiting and evaluating the accident scene
- Analyzing accident reports
- Consulting with accident reconstruction experts and specialists
- Obtaining the safety records of all parties involved on the construction site
- Learning more about safety protocols put into place to protect workers
A detailed investigation is key to finding out who was responsible. At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., our NYC construction accident attorneys have more than 40 years of experience. We know what to look for and we know the right questions to ask.
What types of compensation can I recover if I win my personal injury lawsuit?
Personal injury law gives you the right to recover what you’ve lost. The law is supposed to hold the negligent party fully accountable for all damages the victim sustains, both tangible and intangible. In legal terms, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Economic damages cover expenses such as:
- Medical bills
- Anticipated future medical care
- Lost wages and salary
- Lost employment benefits
- Physical therapy and rehab
- Occupational therapy
- Medical devices
- Modifications to your home and vehicle
- Long-term care costs
- Property damage
- Funeral and burial costs in a wrongful death lawsuit
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, compensate for your:
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, only provides compensation for “economic damages”.
I was seriously hurt in a construction accident and am still recovering. How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Even if your construction accident injuries are serious, time is always limited in cases to recover financial compensation for your injuries. New York state law only gives you three years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this statute of limitations, you lose your right to pursue compensation from the at-fault party.
If you lost a loved one in a construction accident, the rules are slightly different. You only have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Note, you must notify your employer within 30 days of getting hurt.
When a government agency shares the blame, you have a much more limited amount of time and must file a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident.
Do I really need a lawyer to help with a construction accident lawsuit?
It’s always a good idea to have an experienced lawyer in your corner. Construction accident victims often think they’ll be able to get by on workers’ compensation alone. Some are lucky enough to succeed.
In serious injury cases, workers’ compensation might not be enough. Other workers have a hard time even getting their fair benefits. The workers’ compensation board might challenge your claim or try to reduce the amount they owe. In other words, you might need the money a personal injury lawsuit can provide.
A lawyer can help you through all of these complexities and fight to make sure you get what you need. We fight back when the insurance companies try to deny the blame or diminish the severity of your injuries. We make sure your case is based on strong evidence and respected expert opinions that are trial-ready.
Sometimes, our reputation as tough and experienced trial lawyers precedes us in the negotiating room. Insurance companies are much more likely to deal fairly with a lawyer who has a proven history of success. In fact, many accident victims recover substantially more compensation when they hire a lawyer.
Why is it important to call a lawyer right away if I have three years to file a lawsuit?
It’s always important to get legal help as soon as possible. First, we can make sure you’re getting all of the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve while working on your injury lawsuit.
Importantly, we have to investigate to find out who was responsible. Evidence is strongest when you get to it soon after the accident. Documents might disappear as time goes on–and people tend to forget important details.
Additionally, to get fair compensation, we also have to consider the future costs of your injury. That means working with experts to estimate what your future medical care, rehabilitation and diminished earning potential might cost.
In short, all of this takes time. We want to get the most compensation for you, and that requires making a comprehensive, evidence-based claim based on the facts.
Hiring a lawyer sounds expensive. What if I can’t afford to pay?
Our personal injury lawyers know that you’re already facing substantial financial challenges. Like most law firms, we work on a contingency basis so that you don’t have to pay our attorneys’ fees up front. In fact, we only collect our attorneys’ fees if we win a settlement or verdict for you. When we win, we simply secure a pre-agreed-upon percentage of your net award. We also offer a free consultation, so we can discuss these issues in more detail.
Call Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers For More Answers to Questions About NYC Construction Accidents
At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., our NYC personal injury lawyers are here to guide you through the legal process. We know that it can be complex and overwhelming. You’ll likely continue to have questions along the way–and we’re here to answer them while we advocate to get the most available compensation for you.
If you or a loved one were hurt in a NYC construction accident and have questions, give us a call today. Your consultation is 100% free.