While construction workers are never far from danger while on the job, no amount of experience can prepare someone for the devastating nature of building collapse accidents. In addition to the serious physical injuries, victims of structural collapse accidents can face extreme financial hardship, steep medical bills, and immense psychological trauma from their accident. Moreover, legal disputes arising from construction accidents can be especially difficult to navigate as multiple parties are often involved and insurance providers can be reluctant to pay out the entirety of workers’ claims.
Given the challenging nature of these situations, one of the greatest assets a worker who has been injured in a building collapse can have is an experienced attorney. At Halperin & Halperin, P.C. we have decades of experience representing victims of construction accidents and our lawyers always go the extra mile so our clients can focus on what is most important: restoring their health and ensuring the well-being of their families. If you or a loved one has been injured in a building collapse, there is no reason to shoulder the burden alone; call us for a free consultation today and allow our attorneys to fight so you can rest.
How Do Structural Collapses Happen?
To mitigate the risk construction workers face while on the job, there are a number of safety measures required at the federal, state, and local levels. In New York, construction sites are subject to especially stringent building codes, and infractions can result in hefty fines and loss of permits. Nonetheless, structural collapses continue to occur at New York construction sites at alarming rates, often due to noncompliance with safety regulations. While each situation is unique and must be investigated thoroughly before responsibility is determined, some of the most common causes of structural collapses are:
- Deteriorated conditions
- Architectural flaws
- Mistakes and/or miscommunications during the construction process
- Demolition errors due to insufficient planning (e.g., incorrect timing, wrong structure demolished, etc.)
Who is Responsible When Building Collapse Accidents Occur?
Under New York State law, all parties involved in construction projects hold a share of the responsibility of keeping job sites safe. In legal terms, this is referred to as “duty of care,” and if it can be proved that one or more parties have breached this duty and damages were incurred as a direct result of their negligence, the breaching party or parties can be held liable for the damages they have caused.
While comparative negligence (i.e., any contributing mistakes or negligence on the part of the injured worker) is also considered when determining liability, given the inherent danger of construction work, New York, like many states, affords construction workers supplementary protections, several of which can make it easier to recover damages, regardless of whether or not the injured party’s actions played a contributing role. According to the NYC Bar Association, some of the most significant provisions for construction workers under New York State law are:
NYS Labor Law 240: This section provides that, in New York, construction workers who perform work at high elevations pertaining to the erection or maintenance of a building are entitled to adequate safety devices and equipment while on the job. If this condition is not met, the party responsible for supervising the project may be held liable for injuries sustained by workers in an elevation, support, or scaffolding related accident. In this case, the injured worker is entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation in addition to recovering damages from the at-fault party.
NYS Labor Law 241: Under NYS Labor Law 241, strict liability is provided when a property owner, contractor, or any other party is found to have been in violation of safety codes at the time of a workers’ injury. In practice, this means that an injured worker (i.e., the plaintiff) would not have to prove the defendant’s negligence to recover damages because the presence of a safety code violation establishes fault in it of itself.
Legal Options for Victims of Building Collapse Accidents
Workers who have been injured in a construction accident have several different options when pursuing compensation for their losses and, without the help of an attorney, figuring out the best course of action can be very difficult. In cases where a building collapse has occurred, the best strategy to recover damages for the injured party will depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to which, and how many, parties are involved, how severe one’s injuries are, and what type of conditions precipitated the accident. While each case is unique, two of the most common paths an injured worker can take are submitting a claim for workers’ compensation and/or filing a personal injury lawsuit against employers or a 3rd party.
Workers’ Compensation Claims/Benefits
Individuals who file a claim for workers’ compensation have the potential to receive a number of different benefits including cash benefits, medical benefits, disability benefits, and death benefits. While this avenue of recourse is preferred in some circumstances due to its expediency, there are strict limits to how much can be recovered from the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. Moreover, by seeking workers’ compensation benefits, you waive certain rights including the right to sue your employer and the right to choose your healthcare provider for treatments related to the accident.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
While filing a personal injury lawsuit often requires more time and resources than filing for workers’ compensation benefits, it affords the injured party more latitude in both the type of damages they can recover and the amount of compensation they can receive. Unlike workers’ compensation, under New York State law, plaintiffs in personal injury cases can be awarded compensation for psychological distress, pain and suffering, future wages, and more. Additionally, there may be multiple negligent parties meaning that even if a workers’ compensation claim is submitted there still may be opportunities for legal recourse; however, it is best to consult an experienced NY construction accident attorney to weigh all available options before taking action.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries from a building collapse, it is crucial that you seek counsel from an experienced and trustworthy legal team. At Halperin & Halperin P.C., we have over 40 years of experience fighting for construction workers, and our firm has successfully litigated even the most challenging of cases. Our firm takes pride in treating every prospective client like family, and if one of our attorneys cannot help you directly, we will assist you in finding someone who can. Call or email us today for a free consultation.