As we all know, construction work, by its nature, is inherently dangerous. Although union construction workers have an advantage with training and safety measures fought for by their unions, accidents do still occur, and when they do, they can be both physically and financially catastrophic to both the member and his or her family. Dangerous situations are often avoidable on the sites where members work, but it is the responsibility of property owners, general contractors, subcontractors, machine & equipment manufacturers as well as equipment suppliers to provide not only a safe place to work but also to provide safe equipment to perform your work to make that site safer.
New York Labor Laws
The New York State Labor Laws, fought for by your union leadership, protect workers when injured on construction sites. Section 240 of the Labor Law holds property owners and general contractors responsible if there is a gravity-related injury, meaning if a worker falls from a height or an object falls striking a worker, that worker can recover against a third party on or affiliated with the construction site. Sections 241 and 200 of the Labor Law hold owners and contractors responsible if sections of the Industrial Code of the State of New York are violated or if a worker is not provided with a safe place to work.
If injured on the job, certain steps should be taken immediately to protect your rights:
- Always seek Medical Attention First: Even if the injury is seemingly minor, the injury must be documented early so that in the event it worsens over time, the injured worker will not be in a position to have to explain why he or she did not treat when they were first injured. The longer you wait to treat, the more difficult it will be to claim the injuries resulting from the subject accident.
- Report the accident immediately: If you wait too long to report the accident, the responsible party may argue that the accident did not occur on the job.
- Take photographs or video: Too often, construction sites change, and dangerous conditions are often fixed before being documented. In the modern era, almost everyone on a site has the ability to use a cell phone to record a dangerous condition; it is important this is done as close to the time of the accident as possible.
- Get the names and contact information of all witnesses: People move to different jobs or work for different companies, it’s a fact of life, but the ability to contact and find witnesses is vital and should not be overlooked.
- Do not speak with anyone from an insurance company or investigators: Insurance companies for responsible parties often attempt to record statements from injured members before they hire their own attorney. They do this to obtain information that will diminish the value of a claim or ruin the claim altogether. The insurance carrier representative may sound as though they are trying to help you; in fact, many will even go so far as to tell you they are there to help when their ONLY job is to decrease the amount of money you should rightfully receive.
- Hire a competent attorney specializing in construction accident cases: Some nuances and pitfalls can mean the difference between the success and failure of a member’s lawsuit. Although there are some excellent attorneys out there, many more simply advertise for these cases without knowing the details and practice pitfalls under the NYS Labor Laws. Such lawyers do their clients and other members and lawyers who practice in this area a huge disservice by decreasing the case value for injuries similar to yours.
Call us if you are injured on the job
Hach & Rose, LLP is one of the top construction accident law firms in New York State and has the results and pedigree to back it up. Hach & Rose aggressively protects the rights of Union members and has unique experience handling complex construction accident cases for Union members who have been injured. Hach & Rose is never afraid to go to trial, the insurance companies know it, and it’s that willingness to go to trial that ultimately increases the amounts insurance companies are willing to pay to our clients. They are a one-stop shop coordinating workers’ compensation and social security disability benefits. If a member has been injured in a work-related accident, contact Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 or visit them on the web at unionlawfirm.com to discuss any legal issues you may have.