Construction jobs come with inherent risks and dangers, making them a prime example of why workers’ compensation claims exist. From heavy machinery and working at heights to handling dangerous tools, construction workers face daily hazards that can lead to serious injuries. In such unfortunate situations, it’s crucial for workers to understand their rights and the available legal options.
Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim For A Construction Injury
If you’re a construction worker who has been injured while on the job in New York, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. New York, like many other states, requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event that an employee sustains a physical injury while on the clock. Here’s how you can navigate the process if you’re injured at your workplace:
- Report the Injury: The first and most crucial step is to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. You should notify your supervisor or HR department about the accident and your resulting injuries. Be sure to document the incident, including the date, time, location, and any witnesses present. Prompt reporting to your employer is essential, as your employer ultimately needs to file the claim with their insurance carrier. However, you will have up to 30 days until after the incident to file a report of injury.
- Seek Medical Attention: After an injury, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can. Generally, your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will provide you with a list of medical providers approved by them, or you can choose to see your own doctor if the workers’ compensation board approves it. It’s important to follow the instructions of the medical professional and attend any follow-up appointments and treatment plans recommended to you.
- Complete the C-3 Form: Injured workers in New York are required to complete a C-3 form, which is the Employee Claim form for workers’ compensation benefits, within two years of the accident in order to qualify. You can obtain this form from your employer or the Workers’ Compensation Board. It’s imperative that you fill out this form as accurately as possible by providing details about your injury, its cause, and the circumstances surrounding the accident.
- Wait for a Decision: Once your claim is filed, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will review it. The insurance carrier will determine eligibility based on the accident, your injuries, and other circumstances surrounding your claim. Within 14 days of receiving your employer’s report, the insurance carrier will provide you with a written statement of your rights.
- Receive Benefits: If your claim is accepted, you will be eligible to receive the following benefits under the workers’ compensation insurance coverage:
- Medical Expenses: Workers’ compensation will help to cover the costs of medical treatments, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, and any other necessary healthcare services related to your injury.
- Lost Wages: You may be entitled to wage replacement benefits, which generally amount to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum limit.
- Partial or Permanent Disability: If your injury leads to a partial or permanent disability, you may receive additional compensation based on the severity of your impairment.
It’s important to note that workers’ compensation in New York is a “no-fault” system, meaning an employee can still be eligible for benefits even if they were partially responsible for their injuries.
Can You File a Civil Lawsuit Outside of Workers Compensation?
Construction sites are dynamic environments with numerous parties involved, including subcontractors, vendors, architects, suppliers, and engineers. While workers’ compensation provides a safety net for injured construction workers, it typically prevents them from suing their employer for the same injuries; nevertheless, injured employees may have the option to pursue a civil lawsuit against other parties who share responsibility for the accident. To do so successfully, you must demonstrate the following three essential requirements:
- Duty of Care: The third party against which you are seeking damages must have had a duty to act reasonably and safely toward you. In a construction setting, various individuals or entities may owe you a duty of care, including contractors, subcontractors, property owners, and equipment manufacturers. They are expected to take reasonable precautions to ensure your safety while working on the site.
- Breach of Duty: To establish a civil lawsuit, you must demonstrate that the responsible party failed to fulfill their duty of care. This breach of duty can take many forms, such as:
- Inadequate safety measures
- Negligent supervision
- Equipment defects
- Reckless conduct
- Causation: The most crucial element of a civil lawsuit is proving that your injuries resulted from the responsible party’s negligence. You must establish a direct link between their breach of duty and your injuries. This connection can be established through evidence, witness testimonies, and expert opinions.
Examples of Third-Party Negligence In Construction Accidents
Negligence can manifest in various ways on a construction site, leading to accidents and injuries. For example:
- Falls from Poorly Erected Scaffolding: A subcontractor may have erected scaffolding without adhering to safety standards, leading to a worker’s fall and injuries.
- Defects in Safety Equipment: Inadequately designed or defective safety equipment, such as harnesses or helmets, can result in injuries when they fail to protect workers.
- Electric Shocks from Faulty Machinery: Electricians or equipment operators may suffer electric shocks due to poorly maintained or malfunctioning machinery.
- Hazardous Chemical Leaks: If faulty equipment or negligent decisions lead to hazardous chemical leaks or spills, workers may suffer chemical-related injuries.
Product Liability Lawsuits for Construction Injuries
In the construction industry, accidents can sometimes be traced back to equipment malfunctions, and not necessarily due to misuse by the worker. In such cases, pursuing a product liability lawsuit becomes a viable legal avenue. Product liability lawsuits target the entities involved in the production, design, or supply of the equipment responsible for the injury. These entities may be physically distant from the construction site, but their actions or negligence can still be linked to the workplace injury.
To succeed in a product liability lawsuit, it’s essential to establish three key elements:
- Dangerous Equipment at the Point of Origin: You must demonstrate that the equipment or tool that caused your injury was inherently dangerous when it left the manufacturer or supplier. This means that the defect or hazard was present during the manufacturing, design, or distribution process, and it was not caused by subsequent misuse or wear and tear.
- Proper Use of the Equipment: To bolster your case, you need to show that you were using the equipment in the intended manner. This involves demonstrating that you were following the manufacturer’s guidelines and industry safety standards when the injury occurred. This establishes that your actions were consistent with how the equipment was meant to be used, reinforcing the claim that the defect in the equipment was the primary cause of your injury.
- Direct Link Between the Defect and Your Injury: Perhaps the most critical element is establishing a direct connection between the dangerous defect in the equipment and your injury. This means proving that the defect was the root cause of the accident and the subsequent harm you suffered. Expert testimonies, medical records, and forensic analysis can be essential in demonstrating this direct link.
Examples of Product Liability In Construction Accidents
Product liability in construction accidents can arise when defective or dangerous equipment, tools, or materials are involved. Here are some examples of product liability issues in construction accidents:
- Defective Machinery: A construction worker suffers an injury from a piece of heavy machinery like a crane or bulldozer due to a manufacturing defect, like a critical component malfunction.
- Faulty Safety Equipment: If a piece of protective equipment, like a safety harness, fails due to a design flaw or substandard manufacturing, it can result in a fall or other injuries.
- Toxic Materials: If the containers or materials themselves are defective or improperly labeled, it can lead to chemical exposure and associated health problems for workers.
- Scaffolding and Ladders: Defects in scaffolding, ladders, or other tools used for working at heights can result in accidents.
- Electrical Equipment Malfunctions: Faulty wiring, electrical equipment, or power tools can cause electric shocks, burns, or fires on a construction site.
- Concrete and Building Materials: Subpar or defective building materials, such as concrete, steel, or insulation, can compromise the structural integrity of a construction project, leading to collapses, accidents, and injuries.
- Tools and Power Equipment: Hand tools and power equipment, like drills, saws, or nail guns, can malfunction due to design or manufacturing defects, potentially causing serious injuries to construction workers.
The Importance of Legal Guidance In A Workers’ Compensation Claim
When it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim in New York, the importance of seeking legal guidance cannot be overstated. Dealing with a workplace injury can be emotionally and physically taxing, and the legal intricacies involved can compound the stress. New York’s workers’ compensation laws are detailed and subject to constant updates, making it essential to have a skilled legal professional by your side. A New York workers’ compensation lawyer is well-versed in the nuances of these laws and regulations, ensuring that you navigate the process with confidence and clarity.
Additionally, if you have any suspicions that negligence or wrongful conduct by a third party played a role in your workplace injury, legal guidance becomes even more crucial. Experienced workers’ compensation lawyers can assess your case, determine liability, and help you explore potential legal actions beyond workers’ compensation, such as personal injury claims or pursuing damages from third parties.
How Cellino Law Can Help With Your Claim
If you’ve been involved in an incident that resulted in an injury while working in construction, don’t wait to reach out to an experienced attorney for advice. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys have a firm understanding of New York’s laws as they pertain to construction workers, and we’re here to help.
With over $2 Billion in settlements awarded to our clients, you can trust that our attorneys have the resources and skills necessary to advocate for you. Give us a call at 800-555-5555 today, or contact us online for your free case consultation.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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