Utility workers are truly the unsung heroes of New York: they go to work every day and make sure the city keeps running. In addition, they work in one of the most dangerous industries in the country – year after year, utility line work is one of the top 10 most dangerous professions in America.
When a tragic accident does occur, utility workers in New York have options available to them, but an experienced NY workplace injury lawyer is often necessary to make sure utility workers and their families are protected.
The Importance of Utility Workers
The jobs that utility workers do are essential to modern society. They keep electricity running to every building, they keep water flowing through pipes, and they oversee waste management. These things that we take for granted separate us from where humanity was only a hundred years ago. Without the daily labor of the men and women in utility line work, modern American society would come grinding to a halt.
Hazards and Injuries Faced by Utility Workers
Some of the common hazards that utility workers face include:
- Electrical shocks – One of the biggest dangers for utility workers, especially those who work for power companies, is electric shock. Working with power lines is incredibly dangerous – even a moment of distraction can result in a painful death.
- Slips, trips, and falls – All workers in America run the risk of injury due to a fall. The chaotic conditions in which utility workers often find themselves make these accidents more likely.
- Gravity – Utility workers often work on ladders, in buckets on cranes, or up on poles and power lines. Gravity is always a serious hazard, both from the risk of falling and objects falling on workers from above.
- Collapses – A lot of utility work in New York is done underground. Whether utility workers are making new tunnels or performing maintenance on existing structures, a tunnel collapse can be catastrophic.
- Fires and explosions – Utility workers often deal with harsh chemicals and building materials, work with power lines and equipment, and find themselves underground. In these situations, there is a real risk of a flammable item catching fire or exploding.
Serious injuries and fatalities can result from these hazards. The common injuries include things like:
- Bone injury
- Internal organ damage
- Sensory organ damage (blindness, deafness, etc.)
- Soft tissue damage
- Burn injury
- Traumatic amputations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Safety Precautions and Policies
All utility companies must have policies and procedures to keep their workers safe. These policies should cover the kinds of personal protective equipment that workers must wear while on the job, and check-in/check-out standards to make sure every worker is tracked and gets home safely. When these standards are not followed, either by workers or by management, serious injuries can occur.
Workers’ Compensation for Utility Crews
Utility workers in New York should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance through their employers. Any utility worker injured in New York can file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, which should be granted unless the worker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job. It doesn’t matter whose fault the accident was. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation is just like any other insurance – it is most profitable for the insurance company to deny claims and keep the money, rather than pay out what it owes.
Claim Denials and Lawsuits
When a workers’ compensation claim is denied, the worker can appeal, arguing his or her case to the state to try to overturn the denial. This requires filing a lot of paperwork with strict deadlines, and making a case for your claim’s legitimacy. An experienced NYC workers’ compensation attorney can make a huge difference during this process, taking the stress off your shoulders and fighting to make sure you receive the payment you deserve.
In some cases, a civil lawsuit might also be appropriate. Figuring out if negligence caused the accident, and who else may be liable for your injuries, can take a lot of time and may require expert opinions from other utility professionals. Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, has experience fighting for workers’ rights. We know how to figure out exactly what happened and who is to blame. Please give us a call at (216) 986-7353 for a free consultation.