Know Your Rights!
If you work on a construction site for a living, you know that on a daily basis you are faced with the risk of an accident or injury. Site owners, general contractors, and those who hire an employee for a trade each have a responsibility to make the workplace safe. Unfortunately, despite these legal obligations to insure the safety of the work site for the worker, accidents and injuries occur. When workplace accidents cause injuries to a worker, a worker is entitled to file a claim not only for Workmen's Compensation Benefits, which cover lost earnings and medical bills, but also a claim to be compensated for pain and suffering along with, in the case of a worker's death, any loss of familial support. These claims can be pursued separate and apart from the Workmen's Compensation Claims.
The injuries that usually occur at a construction site, tend to be serious, and in some cases fatal, especially if the worker falls from a height, like from a scaffold or ladder. When these types of serious accidents occur, there are laws in place here in New York that are meant to facilitate filing a lawsuit and collecting compensation for the worker and /or his family. For example, I worked on a case recently where a worker was installing roofing at a Home Depot site. He was not given the proper safety netting and other fall prevention equipment. As a result, he tragically fell 25 feet to his death. Falk & Klebanoff P.C. pursued a claim against the General Contractor, sub contractors and Home Depot and was able to secure a $2.75 million settlement for the family of the deceased worker that included payments for not only the worker's pain and suffering ( he died instantly) and but also for the family's loss of support.
If injuries occur that are not height related, New York law still protects the worker, and in some instances imposes absolute responsibility on the General Contractor, Sub Contractors and Property Owners for the loss. Certain statutes protect employees, such as the New York State Industrial Code, which has provisions governing specific and general work site related activities.
If there is no elevation related injury or if a specific provision of the Industrial Code was not violated, the injured party still has a right to pursue Common Law Negligence Claims against the responsible parties. Ideally, in most cases, the worker's lost earnings, doctor, hospital and treatment bills will be covered and should be paid by Worker's Compensation Insurance provided by the worker's employer.
If for some reason, the employer does not have Worker's Compensation Insurance available to protect the worker, a claim can still be filed for payment of the lost earnings, doctor, hospital and treatment bills with the Uninsured Worker's Compensation Pool. The worker has the option of suing the employer for all of the worker's losses if the employer does not provide Worker's Compensation Coverage.
As soon the injured party is able seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney, preferably one who handles these types of accident cases, and worker's compensation claims, he should do so to enable the attorney to preserve the worker's rights and pursue all the responsible parties. Lawyers who specialize in this area can help injured workers and their families determine the best course of action and to get proper and quick compensation.
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