Performing work at elevated heights often requires the use of scaffolding and other support mechanisms. While the use of scaffolding can be very helpful, the dangers associated with scaffolding can lead to serious construction accidents and accidents on industrial job sites.
Roof and Scaffolding Accidents In New York
Scaffolding accidents are responsible for approximately 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Furthermore, these accidents are particularly common in New York City due to the sheer number of buildings under development and the size of those buildings.
The Common Causes
Many different factors can contribute to a scaffold accident, but there are certain factors which are known to cause the majority of these accidents.
A study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that over 70% of workers who are injured in scaffold accidents report one of three causes including being struck by a falling object, having planking or support give way or falling after slipping and tripping.
Other common causes of scaffold accidents include:
- Improper Construction
- Inadequate Maintenance
- Lack of Fall Protection
- Missing Support Pieces
Workplace Injuries: The Consequences of Scaffold Accidents
When workers do suffer an accident at great heights they can suffer serious injuries like:
Unfortunately, workers in New York often suffer these and other types of injuries after being involved in a scaffold accident on the job.
When a worker is injured he or she may incur costly medical expenses and may experience additional financial difficulties from a loss of income due to an inability to work for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, workers who become injured as the result of a scaffold accident are typically able to recover financial support through workers’ compensation and other channels.
Workers’ Compensation For Scaffolding Accidents
Typically, an injured worker files a claim with the workers’ comp insurer regardless of negligence or fault for the accident.
However, New York law recognizes some special considerations for job hazards in the construction industry. In some cases, the contractor, subcontractors and even the property owners can be liable for harms that result from those hazards.
Additionally, Section §240 of the New York Labor Code, called the Scaffolding Law, carves out standards that property owners and general contractors must take to ensure safety and prevent construction scaffolding accidents. Failure to do so could leave them liable for damages should a worker suffer an injury.
Who Can Be Held Responsible?
Many workplace injuries are settled through the workers’ compensation process. Workers file a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance company and can recover compensation for partial wages, and workers’ comp also takes care of medical expenses.
But New York State Labor Law Section §240 specifically states that in regard to heights and scaffolding, contractors and property owners are responsible for maintaining a safe environment.
Comparative liability is not a factor, so even if a worker’s actions contributed to the accident, these actions do not dilute the defendant’s liability. Injured workers must establish that the employer or a contractor in charge of the equipment failed to use the proper safety gear or was otherwise negligent in ensuring a safe environment from heights.
Legal Options For Victims of Construction Scaffolding Accidents
The option for standard workers’ compensation claims exists for roofing and scaffolding injuries.
Under workers’ compensation injured employees may receive:
- partial wages;
- full reimbursement of medical costs; and
- rehabilitative treatment from an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider.
However, workers’ compensation claims are frequently denied for various reasons despite the fact that a worker may be entitled to compensation. If a claim is denied or the benefit set unreasonably low, workers can appeal these decisions to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
Filing A Lawsuit
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, workers injured in scaffolding, roof and other accidents involving heights may collect compensation for pain, suffering, permanent injuries and other damages by filing a lawsuit against a third party. These cases are similar to personal injury cases, but do not remove an injured worker’s right to file workers compensation as well.
Hiring A Scaffold Accident Attorney In New York City
Workers who are injured in scaffold accidents often ask us whether or not they need a lawyer to recover compensation. While hiring a lawyer after a scaffold accident is not required by law it is advisable for several reasons.
Claims for Workers’ compensation are frequently denied in New York. Many of these denied claims are due to mistakes made on the part of the injured workers seeking financial support.
An experienced New York attorney will help you assess all of your legal options after an accident and will help you to maximize your chances of recovering any compensation that you may be owed. In fact, studies show that working with a lawyer increases your chances of winning a workers’ compensation claim.
Contact The Disability Guys Today
The Disability Guys have been helping injured workers in New York for decades. Contact us today if you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a work-related accident. We are committed to representing the rights of injured workers throughout the Greater New York City Area from our offices in Manhattan, White Plains and Staten Island.