Ladders may be necessary equipment for many construction workers, especially when performing jobs such as painting, roofing, and electrical work. Ladders, however, can present a very real danger on a job site, especially when they are improperly placed or secured. Even a minor fall from a ladder can result in long-term consequences, such as a disability. Using ladders safely is the responsibility of everyone at a site - when someone acts negligently, serious injuries can occur.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to an accident involving a ladder, don’t suffer in silence. Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, has many years of experience fighting for the rights of construction workers injured on the job, including falls from ladders. Our team of New York ladder accident attorneys can investigate your case and advocate for proper compensation for you and your family. Call (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation and tell us what happened so we can discuss your options and make sure your rights are protected.
Portable ladders, meaning ladders that can be moved, are designed for very specific tasks. Where a stepladder might be useful for reaching a ceiling, an extension ladder may be necessary to paint the side of a building. If a worker is supplied with the wrong type of ladder for a given task, he is put at risk of suffering a serious injury. In addition, if the ladder in question is faulty or damaged, it could collapse underneath a worker. While workers and employers should always follow OSHA ladder safety guidelines, serious accidents occur every day due to the actions of other workers, property owners, and manufacturers.
Some common types of ladder accidents include:
- Falls: Falling off a ladder can have long-term consequences for the victim. How high up the person was will impact how serious the injuries are, though head injuries from a fall of any height can be traumatic, even fatal. Falls can occur in a wide variety of situations, such as if an extension ladder is not secured against a structure, the ladder’s steps are slippery, or the ladder is too short and a worker had to stretch to complete a task.
- Falling objects: Construction workers routinely place other objects onto ladders, including hand-held tools, buckets, and work materials. If these objects are dropped or knocked off a ladder, people below and around the ladder can be struck and injured. Workers on ladders can also be struck by falling objects, such as a dropped power tool.
- Ladders tipping over: Sometimes the ladder itself becomes unstable and falls over. This may be because the ladder was placed on an unsafe surface, it was hit by heavy machinery, or it was not secured to a structure. Anyone on or near the ladder can be injured when this happens.
- Improper Ladder Use: Ladders should be properly put in place and stable before workers use them. Using a ladder that is too short for a given task or placing one on an uneven surface can make it unstable. Each ladder also has specific height and weight limits and, if a worker is supplied with the wrong type of ladder, he may be inadvertently injured in an accident. Ladders should also have anti-slip guards to prevent falls, but if the steps of a ladder are wet, have paint on them, or are dirty, that could cause workers to lose their balance as well.
- Defective Ladders: Ladders can become unstable due to overuse, poor maintenance, or bad design. For example, a rusty ladder may be difficult to fully open, meaning it is harder to secure on the ground. Or the legs of the ladder might be uneven, and it could wobble when a worker climbs it.
- Direct contact: Due to the large size and awkward weight of ladders, they can be dangerous even when being transported. Workers who do not follow proper precautions and safety rules when carrying a ladder can harm others if they are not careful. The injuries from such carelessness can be very serious, often resulting in head trauma.
The types of injuries that occur in ladder accidents usually depend on the nature of the accident and the ground below. Someone falling from a ladder will be harmed differently than another person struck by a falling hammer or paint bucket. With that in mind, injuries from ladder accidents often include:
- Lacerations and bruises
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal injuries
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
In ladder fall accidents, employers often blame the victim for being "clumsy" or not paying attention while on a ladder. The reality, however, is that many factors can cause these kinds of accidents, including improper maintenance, failing to replace defective ladders, improper safety training, or negligence by supervisors or other workers on a job site. In most cases, if you were injured while performing your duties at a construction site, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
While many workers in New York can benefit from a workers’ compensation claim after a ladder accident, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim. In a personal injury claim, you may be able to receive significantly more in compensation, but you cannot file a claim against your employer if you receive workers’ compensation. However, if you can prove a third-party was negligent, thus liable for your injury, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against that person or group.
Negligence means that someone acted in a way that goes against what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. Liability means that the act of negligence directly contributed to someone else’s injuries. In our experience, the parties that you can hold accountable for a ladder accident in a personal injury claim include:
- Independent Contractors: Typically, if another employee at your construction company injures you in an accident, you are barred from filing a claim against them under New York workers’ compensation laws. However, if you were injured by an independent contractor, you can file a claim against them. For example, if an independent contractor caused your ladder to collapse during a demolition or while moving equipment, then you could file a third-party claim.
- Property Owners: Property owners are responsible for making sure a job site is safe and secure for construction workers to complete their duties. If a property owner did not warn workers about a weak deck before the workers placed their ladders against it, and the supports break, causing the ladder to collapse, then the property owner would be liable for any injuries suffered by the workers.
- Product Manufacturers: Product manufacturers have a certain amount of responsibility toward their customers, including construction workers. If a ladder manufacturer or designer created a faulty product that was prone to collapsing, then anyone injured in the collapse could file a product liability claim for compensation.
Discovering what truly caused an accident and proving liability is no small task, which is why you deserve to have an experienced NY construction injury lawyer by your side.
A serious accident is traumatic and can leave you in chronic pain, feeling depressed and isolated from friends and family. You are not alone - there are people who care and who will fight to help you recover from your injuries. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 and tell us what happened in a free consultation. If we take your case, you owe us nothing unless we get you fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.
- Ladder Hazards and Construction Safety
- Common Hazards that Cause Construction Accidents
- Ladder Safety One Rung at a Time - National Safety Council
- Reducing Falls in Construction: Safe Use of Extension Ladders
NY Ladder Accident Verdicts & Settlements
$4.1 Million Recovery - Construction Site Ladder Fall
$3.5 Million - Laborer Fell From Ladder
$3 Million - Non-Union Laborer Injured After Fall From Ladder
$2.95 Million - Construction Worker Ladder Collapse
$2.75 Million - Worker Falls off Ladder
$1.6 Million Recovery - Ladder Fall During Building Renovation