Certainly, if you’re working at a New York construction site demolishing a wall, framing a window or installing electrical wire — and you were hurt in the process – then you potentially may be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries, as these are activities clearly covered by the laws that protect construction workers. What you may not have known, however, is that there is actually a wide array of circumstances under which the laws designed to protect injured construction workers can help you, even if you weren’t doing “stereotypical” construction work like the examples above. In other words, if you were hurt at a New York construction site, it pays to contact a knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorney to learn more about the legal options available to you.
In a case that was recently ruled upon by the Appellate Division court in Manhattan, the worker’s injuries arose from one of those non-stereotypical activities. M.D. was inside a construction trailer when he spotted a coworker who was “performing improper work.” M.D., seeking to stop that coworker, stepped out of the trailer. When he passed through the trailer door, there were no stairs beneath, and he fell, suffering substantial harm.
In this case, even though M.D. was not engaged in stereotypical construction work, he had a possibly winning case. He suffered a fall due to inadequate safeguards and his activity at the time of the accident was something covered by the law.
Even if you are able to clear those vital hurdles, your work may not be done. Many times, the defense will argue that it was actually you who were 100% to blame for the accident, which would mean that you would not be legally entitled to recover any compensation. In M.D.’s case, the defense made that argument, asserting that the trailer had another door, that the other door had steps beneath it, that M.D. knew about the other door (and its stairs) and knew that “he was expected to use it.” Based on those arguments, the defense asserted that the injured worker was the sole cause of his accident.
Ways to overcome an argument that you were the accident’s sole cause
Even if the mistake you made at your construction site possibly contributed in some way to your injury accident, that does not prohibit you from winning and obtaining compensation. The law doesn’t require proof that a worker was “a proximate cause,” but demands evidence that the worker was the “sole proximate cause.”
In M.D.’s case, there were several opportunities to attack the “sole cause” defense. Because M.D.’s case was at the summary judgment phase, the law required the defense to provide the court with enough evidence to prove that there was no legitimate factual disagreement about the worker’s knowledge of the second door, his knowledge that the second door had steps (and that the door he used didn’t,) and his knowledge that he was expected to use only the second door. If the proof in the case allowed for a viable factual dispute on any of these things, then the worker was entitled to proceed with his case (which was what the Appellate Division court decided when it ruled for M.D. in his appeal.)
One area that can be fruitful to attack in a case like this is the defense contention that the injured worker knew he was expected to do or not do some action. Many times, the evidence regarding what a worker did or didn’t know is can be of the “he said-he said” variety, which almost never is enough to entitle the defense to a summary judgment throwing out a worker’s case.
There’s a lot that goes into a successful New York construction injury case. One key ingredient is the right legal counsel. Reach out to the skilled New York City construction accident attorneys at Arcia & Associates to find out how we can help. Our team has many years helping injured workers get the much-needed compensation they deserve. Call us today at 844-465-7296 or contact us online.