Many construction sites involve projects that are multiple stories high. Accordingly, one of the most common and dangerous construction-related accidents concerns objects falling from above. OSHA categorizes the accident “struck by object” among Construction’s “Fatal Four,” accounting for the most construction-related deaths after falls.
In addition to the OSHA guidelines, New York also has laws designed to protect construction workers from falling objects on construction sites. Although the Workers’ Compensation laws generally prohibit you from suing your employer for workplace-related injuries, you may still commence legal action against a third-party responsible for your injuries.
New York Labor Laws and Falling Objects
New York Labor Law § 240 protects construction site workers from height-related accidents. Often referred to as the “Scaffold Law,” strict liability is applied for failure to provide adequate safety gear, including scaffolding, hoists, pulleys, ladders, slings, ropes, and other protective devices. If a height-related construction accident occurred due to a contractor’s failure to provide such safety equipment, they can be held strictly liable.
In addition to height-related falls, Labor Law § 240 may apply to injuries caused by falling objects. New York courts have imposed liability in cases where there was a foreseeable risk of a height-related accident resulting from a failure to provide proper safety equipment or adequately secure an object used in construction. Courts have also determined that Labor Law § 240 may be applicable in cases where construction-related objects fell while being hoisted.
A construction worker injured by a falling object may also use Labor Law § 241 to establish a labor law violation in connection with New York Industrial Code Part 23. While the Scaffold Law specifically addresses height-related accidents, Labor Law § 241 requires adequate safety gear and protection be provided to workers involved in numerous other construction-related activities.
Third-Party Liability for Falling Objects
In New York, Workers’ Compensation was a system designed to provide medical benefits and lost wages to injured workers. Although these laws generally prevent you from suing your employer for negligence, you can still pursue compensation by commencing legal action against a third-party.
Construction projects usually involve numerous parties on whom liability could attach, including:
- General contractors
- Property owners
There are many hazardous conditions that can cause falling objects on construction sites. If a third-party created or knew about an unsafe condition (or should have known about it) and failed to warn or remedy, they may have been negligent. If a court finds that strict liability should be imposed — such as for failure to provide adequate safety equipment — establishing negligence is unnecessary.
Compensation for New York Construction Site Falling Object Accidents
If you are a construction site worker who was injured by a falling object, you may be entitled to recover economic damages. These can include unreimbursed and future medical expenses, lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. You may also be entitled to non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Punitive damages may also be award in some cases.
If a worker was killed as a result of being struck by a falling object, their loved ones may be able to recover compensation in a wrongful death action.
Contact a New York Construction Site Accident Attorney
Labor law violations are highly complex and nuanced and require the knowledge of a skilled attorney who focuses on this area. If a falling object struck you on a construction site, it is critical to contact an experienced construction site accident attorney. In any construction accident or labor law case, there are strict statutes of limitation that begin running from the date of the accident and shorter ones if the claim involves a municipality. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. can help you obtain the maximum compensation available for your injuries.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.