The law in New York provides some very clear and strong protections for construction workers who are hurt on the job. The owner of the property where the work is taking place, as well as the general contractor on the project, has a responsibility under the law to provide workers on the site with a safe place to do their jobs. This includes providing them with the equipment and safety devices needed to do the work in a way that won’t result in injuries. In New York, you are entitled to that protection and entitled to sue when you are hurt because you didn’t receive that protection, regardless of your immigration status. If you’ve been hurt at your construction job, you should contact a knowledgeable New York construction accident attorney right away.
New York courts are clear about undocumented workers’ rights to pursue their cases. One recent example was a case filed by a worker named Carlos, who was a construction worker on a project in Long Island. Carlos needed to do a job that was high up. The ground below was uneven. Carlos recognized, and stated, that a ladder would not work for the task. Even though there were aerial lifts and scaffolding available, Carlos’s supervisor told him to use a ladder anyway. The ladder that Carlos used was not secured to anything. Eventually, Carlos fell from the ladder and suffered serious injuries to his back and his dominant hand and wrist.
Carlos sued. Carlos’ case was a strong one based upon the unsecured ladder. He gave his testimony as part of the trial. The owner of the site, which was one of the companies that Carlos sued, argued that the court should reject all of the proof Carlos gave in his testimony and should instead rule in its favor. The sole basis for this argument by the property owner was the fact that Carlos was an undocumented immigrant, that he did not pay taxes, and that he had used a co-worker’s name to obtain health insurance after the ladder accident.
The Appellate Division court, which issued a ruling in Carlos’ favor, was very clear that Carlos’ immigration status didn’t matter. When a court decides whether a witness is believable, the court can only make that credibility decision based upon facts that are relevant to the lawsuit. Carlos’ immigration status, compliance with tax laws, or health insurance application had nothing to do with the facts of this case, which were solely about whether or not the use of the unsecured ladder violated the legal requirement to provide Carlos with a safe workplace.
In other words, Carlos’ immigration status had nothing to do with how he got hurt, so the law says that it should have no impact on his construction accident lawsuit.
The courts are very consistent about this. Earlier last year, a Brazilian man, who was also undocumented, hurt his ankle when he stepped in a hole at his construction site. He sued. In his case, the general contractor and the property owner argued that the worker had committed a “fraud upon the court” because he filed his case under a false name. He used the name of a friend, which was the same name that he had used since he came to the USA in 1997 and began seeking work. The court ruled against the contractor and the site owner. The man’s use of the friend’s name did nothing that prevented or harmed them from defending themselves in the lawsuit, so it did not matter and was not a “fraud upon the court.”
Constructions sites are, unfortunately, not always safe places to work. Too often, construction workers are hurt due to safety shortcomings. When that happens, you are entitled to seek compensation, whether you are documented or undocumented. To find out more about your rights if you’ve been hurt at your construction job, reach out to the skilled New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates. Our team has spent many years working hard to help injured workers get what the law says they are entitled to receive.
Contact us at (718) 651-4363 for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.