After you’ve been hurt at your construction job and you have made the important decision to seek compensation through the court system, you can expect that the entities you’ve sued won’t go down without fight. They will likely be well armed with skillful attorneys who know how to make persuasive arguments to defeat the claims of workers like you.
That doesn’t mean that you should fear or despair, and it definitely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sue. All that previous warning should illustrate to you is just how important it is to make sure that you have an experienced and effective New York City construction injury attorney of your own to fight for you.
One of the more common techniques that an employer may use to try to defeat your case is to cast you as entirely at fault. If you have strong proof that you were hurt and that you were not provided with safety protection equipment, then the employer may resort to trying to pin the blame 100% on you. A bridge worker from western New York faced that hurdle in his case, and his success is an example of how to defeat that defense argument.
A.D.S. was sandblasting a bridge for repainting when he stepped in a hole in a temporary deck. Reportedly, his leg dropped roughly two feet and the impact caused him to fracture his ankle.
The worker sued, alleging that he was not provided with the necessary safety protections against “elevation-related” risks as required by New York law and that, as a result, he was hurt. The trial judge sided with the worker, granting him a summary judgment on the bridge owner’s liability. That meant that, at trial, the worker only needed to prove exactly how badly he was damaged and how much compensation he should receive.
Not how far you fell… but how far you had the potential to fall
The appeals court upheld what the trial judge decided. In making those rulings, the courts made a couple of key decisions in the worker’s favor that other workers should note. First, the courts reminded workers that, even if they don’t fall a long way, they can still succeed under a Section 240(1) claim if they could have fallen a long way. In A.D.S.’s case, his leg fell only a couple of feet, but the opening through which his leg fell was big enough that his entire body could have fit and, if that had happened, he could have fallen all the way to a lower level.
Second, the court rejected the bridge owner’s attempt to avoid liability by arguing that the accident was 100% the worker’s fault. In this case, the bridge owner provided evidence that there were boards available that A.D.S. could have used to cover the opening.
The ruling made it clear that this kind of evidence, by itself, is not enough to create an issue of the injured worker’s sole blame for the accident. Even if the owner did have enough proof that boards were available to A.D.S. to use to cover the hole, it didn’t have proof that A.D.S. received instructions or directions that he was the one responsible for covering openings in the platform. Without that kind of additional evidence, the owner didn’t have a case that the accident was 100% the fault of the injured worker.
Winning your New York construction injury case is not an easy task. However, with the right evidence and the right attorney, it is a fight in which you definitely can succeed. For legal representation upon which you can rely, reach out to the knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates. Our team has been successfully helping workers like you for many years and is ready to get to work for you.
Contact us at (718) 651-4363 to find out how we can help you.