Liability For Fatal Worker Accidents At New York Construction Sites

The construction industry can be hazardous to the health and safety of its workers.

On September 23, 2014, a 27-year-old construction worker from Jersey City was crushed to death in Manhattan when a concrete slab from the foundation of an adjacent building fell on him during excavation work for a new hotel. The New York Post reported that a witness estimated the slab probably weighed "several tons."

Construction Fatalities: The National Numbers

In 2013, the construction industry had the most fatal work injuries nationally of any industry sector: almost 800, according to preliminary data gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, referred to as the BLS. Of the total, the percentages of selected events that caused these construction deaths include: 12 percent roadway; 37 percent fall, slip or trip; and 10 percent worker struck by an object or piece of equipment.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration expands on the BLS numbers. OSHA reports that the 2013 numbers show that one in five U.S. workers with work-related deaths that year were in the construction industry. OSHA labels these causes as the "Fatal Four" in construction, causing more than half of these fatalities:

  • Falls: 36.9 percent
  • Struck by object: 10.3 percent
  • Electrocution: 8.9 percent
  • Caught inside or in between (such as being crushed or pinched between objects like two parts of a machine, two pieces of equipment, a vehicle and a stationary object like a wall, two moving objects, collapsed walls in a trench and so on): 2.6 percent

Construction In New York

To New Yorkers, this should come as no surprise. A city in a constant state of rejuvenation, a scan of the New York skyline at any time reveals cranes, scaffolding and other signs of new construction, renovation and demolition.

BLS provides New York-specific data from 2013. Of the almost 800 construction-worker deaths nationally, 38 were in New York state, including New York City. Specific causative events in these deaths:

  • Transportation incidents: 6
  • Falls, slips and trips: 20
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: 4
  • Contact with objects and equipment: 7

Legal Counsel For Construction Injury And Death

Anyone in New York City injured in the construction industry or with a loved one killed on a construction site should speak as soon as possible to a personal injury attorney with extensive construction accident experience. The construction accident lawyers at Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C., a New York City personal injury law firm with extensive experience representing injured construction workers and their families, can investigate the incident and provide advice about legal remedies and potentially responsible parties.

Not only should an injured worker apply for workers' compensation, but also ask his or her attorney to analyze whether a third-party lawsuit is appropriate under the circumstances. Any statements or reports that are filed for a workers' compensation claim will be discoverable by the defendants in a third-party lawsuit for personal injuries. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced construction injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Massive projects in a densely built and populated area like New York City are by nature dangerous to those who labor on them, but contractors, subcontractors, property owners, landlords, equipment and materials manufacturers and others are all responsible to do their part to keep workers safe by not negligently or recklessly allowing dangerous conditions, unsafe equipment or safety standard violations.

Keywords: liability, fatality, construction accident, New York City, construction worker, excavation, hotel, BLS, OSHA, death, attorney, third-party lawsuit, workers' compensation

Case Results

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  • $2.1 million settlement

    for 33-year old electrician who fell from ladder while attempting to fit heavy cable into crown box when cable sprung back and struck him, causing him to suffer left shoulder injury with impingement.

  • $1.6 million settlement

    for 38-year old electrician who slipped and fell on debris on stairway with resulting cervical herniated disc and aggravation of pre-existing arthritic changes.

  • $2.55 million settlement

    for 42-year old electrician who fell into an uncovered, unprotected hole and suffered a severe low back injury with herniated disc(s) that required surgery at L4-5 and L5-S1 levels.

  • $1.75 million settlement

    for 26-year old construction worker who fell through opening in roof and fractured his wrist, requiring surgery with open reduction and internal fixation, external fixation device, and eventual fusion.

  • $2.5 million settlement

    for 38-year old female electrician (with history of prior neck injury) who tripped on uneven Masonite protective floor covering, and suffered neck injury with herniated discs requiring cervical fusion.

  • $1.2 million settlement

    during trial for 40-year old sheet metal worker who was struck in the neck and shoulder by an air conditioning unit and suffered herniated cervical discs and cervical radiculopathy.