Construction work is dangerous work and, sometimes, fatal accidents truly are no one’s fault and could not reasonably have been prevented. Too often, though, that’s not the case. Too many times, the accidents that prematurely end the lives of the men and women working construction in New York are accidents that are caused, entirely or partially, by someone’s failure to comply with proper safety protocols, including Department of Buildings requirements. It is for these (and other) situations that New York has very strong laws designed to protect construction workers and their families. If you or a loved one has been victimized because someone on your site failed to do what they should have done to ensure safety, you should contact an experienced New York City construction injury attorney and put those laws to use for your family.
A recent fatal accident from Manhattan is an example of what we mean when we say “failed to do what they should have.” G.P. a 49-year-old man from Queens, was working on a construction project located next door to Grand Central cleaning debris off a scaffold. As he worked along an area of the scaffold that did not have guardrails, he fell through the scaffold. At the time, the scaffold was on the fifth floor. G.P. dropped 30 feet to the second floor. He was ultimately pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital.
A report from therealdeal.com indicated that the Department of Buildings, which issued a full stop-work order after the man’s death, intended to file violations. According to the department, guardrails were required. In other words, the scaffold upon which G.P. was working should have had guardrails in all areas.
While there is no way to know for sure, it seems very possible that, if the scaffold had had guardrails across all areas, G.P. might not have suffered his fatal accident. His family might have continued to enjoy his love, support and companionship. His family also would have benefited from his continued income from his construction work earnings. Now, they’ve lost all of those things, along with incurring funeral expenses and medical bills.
How the law can help when safety shortcomings harm you
That’s where the legal system can step in. G.P.’s accident potentially seems to present a very clear opportunity to sue for a violation of Section 240(1) of the Labor Law. In fact, that statute is even called the “Scaffold Law,” although it applies to more than just scaffold accidents.
That law says that the site owner and the general contractor on your project owe you a duty to ensure that you have all the proper safety protections you need to be safe from elevation-related risks of harm. In other words, this law covers injuries where you fall, or things fall on you.
In G.P.’s case, his family would almost certainly rely upon the fact that G.P. fell a long distance, that the fall inflicted fatal injuries upon the man, that G.P. fell while in an area that lacked a guardrail and that, under the Department of Buildings’ requirements, it should have had guardrails.
These things could possibly give a family in a situation like G.P.’s a plausible argument for summary judgment in their favor, and that’s very important. Summary judgment is a process that, if you win, allows you to skip past having a trial on the defendants’ liability. The judge, by granting your summary judgment request, says that the defendants were liable, and that you are allowed to proceed straight to having a trial on the amount of compensation you should receive. This allows you get a final judgment (or settlement) more efficiently and get the compensation you need more quickly.
Perhaps someday, the people responsible for ensuring construction workers’ safety will do everything they can to keep these men and women safe. Until they do, the law is here to give you an opportunity to get the compensation you need for the great harm you and your family suffered. For more information about your case, call upon the knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates. Our team has many years of handling construction injury cases and helping injured workers and their families.
Contact us at (718) 651-4363 to find out how we can help you.