New York City is experiencing a construction boom, with countless projects in motion throughout the city. Contractors and developers are under pressure to get the project completed and to make profits for investors. In doing so, they may cut corners in safety procedures, leading to serious injuries for construction workers, including crush injuries.
Crush injuries are extremely dangerous and potentially fatal, especially if multiple areas of the body are permanently damaged. These injuries can lead to internal organ damage, permanent damage to ligaments and tendons, and irreparable broken bones. In some cases, if a limb is heavily damaged, medical doctors may have to amputate it to avoid fatal internal bleeding. The costs of treatment can be astronomical, and the financial fallout of a crush injury can only increase if you are unable to return to work.
Construction companies have a responsibility to protect their workers from serious accidents and ensure that all safety features are followed to the letter. When they fail to do so, workers deserve proper compensation for their injuries. But seeking compensation is easily said than done, and you will need the aid of an experienced NY crush injury attorney at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, to ensure you have a strong claim for damages. But our legal team is not afraid of a challenge and can provide outstanding support through the entire process. To learn how, call our office at (212) 986-7353 and schedule a free consultation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has outlined four major causes of construction site injuries and deaths, dubbed the "Fatal Four.” These types of accidents are incredibly common in accidents where safety guidelines are ignored and include:
- Struck by Object
- Caught in or Caught Between
With regard to crush injuries, the most common causes are caught in or caught between accidents. These occur when a worker’s limbs or torso are caught within a piece of machinery or between two hard objects. This can range from a defective crane that pins a worker’s arm against the ground to a poorly managed demolition that causes a wall to collapse on a worker. However, struck by accidents and falls should not be discounted, as they can also cause severe trauma that crushes bones, muscles, and organs.
A crushing injury can occur under a wide range of circumstances, and in many cases, upon investigation, these injuries are the direct result of violations of safety codes and regulations. The safety measures at New York City job sites have proven to be woefully inadequate, putting all construction workers at high risk of permanent injury or death. In fact, the majority of those who are seriously injured or die are undocumented immigrant laborers. Every worker who puts their life on the line to improve the infrastructure of New York City deserves to know that their employer will take every precaution, obey every law, and follow all safety procedures when managing a job site. Sadly, this is simply not the case, and workers are catastrophically disfigured every year due to deadly crush injuries.
The types of situations – completely avoidable – that have led to crushing injuries include:
- Cave-ins and poorly planned demolitions
- Pulls into defective equipment or caught between heavy machinery
- Falls from heights
- Faulty equipment braking systems
- Forklift accidents
- Unguarded moving parts
- Hit by swinging machinery, such as cranes, broken pullies, or power tools
- Punch press malfunctions
Caught in and caught between accidents are often the result of a safety violations on the part of a construction worker or supervisor who ignores proper procedures. Everyone on a job site should be aware of the inherent dangers of operating heavy equipment, performing excavations, and demolishing walls and buildings, as well as how to best protect themselves from an accident.
OSHA has outlined various safety practices to help prevent catastrophic or fatal accidents and caught in and caught between accidents are no different. Keyways that construction companies and workers can prevent crush injuries include:
Identify Safety Hazards: The best way to prevent crush injuries is to stop them in their tracks. This means routinely inspecting a job site, equipment, machinery, and support structures for flaws or loose parts. Even loose gravel around an excavation or faulty electrical components in a forklift can cause an accident and should be taken seriously.
Check Equipment Guards: Many types of construction equipment have safety guards that prevent body parts and clothing from being caught in the moving parts. When a tool or machine is not being used, it should be off, have its guard on and secure, and depowered. This ensures that a worker does not inadvertently become injured when moving, repairing, or performing maintenance on it.
Review Support Structures: Many excavations and trench collapses are the result of loose or unsecure support beams. Supervisors should review a site every day to guarantee that these structures are capable of supporting loose dirt and do not inadvertently collapse when a worker is expanding them.
Train and Update Workers: New workers enter job sites every day. Even with New York’s strict laws about OSHA training and certification, many are not aware of the inherent dangers on a job site. Supervisors and general contractors should always review safety procedures with new workers to ensure they conduct themselves professionally while on the job. In addition, if there any new safety hazards on a site, workers should be informed immediately.
A worker who manages to survive a crush injury will often face a permanent disability and decreased quality of life. While some trauma can be repaired with immediate medical attention, it is not uncommon for the damage to be permanent. A crush injury to the torso or hips can cause catastrophic fractures and completely tear an organ. Beyond surgery to repair the damage, your doctor may recommend a transplant to give you the best chance at a healthy life.
But in many cases, a crushed limb can suffer irreversible damage. With the type of heavy equipment and materials used on a construction site, a worker’s bones, muscles, and nerves can be severely damaged. In some instances, victims develop compartment syndrome, which is a medical emergency. If not treated quickly enough or of the crush was too much for the limb to handle, your doctor may recommend a medical amputation. This is often done to prevent fatal blood loss. There may just be no hope of saving a leg, arm, hand, or foot.
In addition, when the head is involved, the worker, if he survives, may have permanent brain damage and be unable to function in life, much less work and earn a living. Families must live without the income the injured person provided and in despair about the condition of their loved one.
While all of these situations involve a great deal of medical debt and lost wages, victims deserve full compensation for their injuries, which includes recovering damages related to the physical trauma they have gone through, their mental anguish, and any loss of enjoyment they must deal with due to a negligent construction company. However, some cases are not clear cut, and there may be other liable parties you can seek compensation from.
New York job sites have numerous moving parts with dozens, if not hundreds, of workers overseeing a single project. If even one member of that team acts negligently, it could endanger anyone involved. In the same manner, supervisors and property owners must also take great care to protect their workers. They must keep both the big picture of the construction site in mind while planning individual projects and the small details that can severely impact safety procedures. At the end of the day, if anyone commits negligence on a construction site, a worker can easily suffer a catastrophic crush injury.
Any on the job injury is covered under workers’ compensation in New York City so long as you were performing your normal duties during the accident. But filing a workers’ compensation claim is not a simple task, you will want to discuss your claim with a workers’ comp attorney first to ensure that every detail is included in your case. It is also possible that our attorneys will find other forms of compensation you can pursue. For example, if your injury was caused by a sub-contractor, the property owner, or another negligent party who is not employed by your company, then you can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Personal injury claims are often more thorough than workers’ compensation claims, meaning you may be able to receive more compensation for your injury.
Lastly, it is also possible that everyone on the job site was obeying all rules and regulations when your accident happened. Instead, rather than a worker being to blame, your injuries may have been caused by a defective piece of machinery or equipment, such as a faulty crane, forklift, or bulldozer. In these instances, you may be able to pursue a product liability claim against the retailer or manufacturer, which will vary depending on the type of defect.
But to get the most out of your claim and determine who was at fault, you will want to work with an experienced legal team that has the resources to thoroughly investigate your claim.
Companies that violate safety regulations and put workers at risk must be held accountable. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, we take on construction companies, developers, sub-contractors, and others who have put construction workers in harm’s way and hold them accountable. Our litigation team has garnered a reputation for commitment, professionalism, and compassion. We limit the numbers of cases we represent so that each client gets the care and dedication they deserve. Our NY construction accident lawyers will pursue the maximum possible in damages, based upon the degree of the injuries, and the long-term impact upon the victim.
Our firm will take action to demand full compensation for all damages for workers and their families. We urge you to contact us at once if your loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in a crushing accident in the New York City metro area. We will move into action immediately and do everything possible to help you seek full justice. Call (212) 986-7353 today to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.
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