Working on scaffolding can be extremely dangerous. Regardless of how high workers are off the ground, scaffolding collapses and other accidents can lead to life-altering, life-threatening, and even fatal injuries.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a scaffolding accident, it is important to know your legal rights. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi is well-versed in the unique complexities of New York scaffold law.
5 Steps to Make a Scaffolding Accident Claim
The process of making a scaffolding accident claim can be broken down into five key steps. These steps are:
1. Report the Scaffolding Accident to Your Employer
When workers are hurt on the job, they need to notify a supervisor of their injuries within 30 days of the accident. This is essential for maintaining your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, as well as preserving your right to bring separate legal claims against the party or parties responsible for the scaffolding.
Reporting the scaffold accident to your employer creates a record of how you got hurt on the job. A knowledgeable work injury lawyer can help if you are unsure how to go about notifying your employer of the accident.
2. Hire a Lawyer to Investigate the Scaffolding Accident
After any type of construction site accident, it is important to hire an experienced attorney or law firm to investigate on your behalf. The purpose of your lawyer’s investigation will be to gather the evidence needed to establish liability.
The employer and/or its insurance carrier may conduct their own investigation of the accident. However, the purpose of their investigation is to protect the company, not the workers harmed in a scaffolding accident.
3. Determine the Cause of the Scaffolding Accident
Based on a combination of evidence and expert testimony, your lawyer will be able to determine what caused the scaffolding accident. Some of the most common causes of scaffolding accidents in New York include:
- Faulty scaffolding design
- Faulty scaffolding construction
- Failure to properly maintain scaffolding
- Failure to properly inspect scaffolding
- Exceeding a scaffold’s weight capacity
- Slip and trip hazards on scaffolding
- Violations of scaffolding safety standards
Failure to follow general scaffolding safety requirements is among the top 10 most frequently cited standards violations by OSHA. Any one of these issues can result in a catastrophic failure of the scaffolding that can put workers and bystanders alike in danger.
As OSHA plainly states, all scaffolding-related deaths “can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards.” This goes for the vast majority of non-fatal injuries as well.
Unfortunately, despite clear guidance from OSHA, construction companies routinely fail to meet scaffolding safety standards. In doing so, they knowingly put their workers in harm’s way.
4. Determine Who Is Liable for the Scaffolding Accident
Once the cause of the scaffolding accident is identified, your lawyer will focus on determining who is responsible for your injuries or the death of your loved one. If the design of the scaffolding was flawed, for example, then the company that designed the scaffolding may be liable.
New York Labor Law § 240 assigns a nondelegable duty to all “contractors and owners and their agents” to provide workers with safe scaffolding. Under the “Scaffold Law,” workers can sue contractors, subcontractors, and property owners for injuries sustained on the job as a result of scaffolding accidents. Crucially, the New York Scaffold Law establishes a strict liability standard. In other words, injured workers do not have to prove that the party or parties responsible for the scaffolding were negligent.
5. Determine What Claim (or Claims) You Can File
Finally, a scaffolding accident lawyer can discuss your legal options for pursuing compensation. Most construction workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after a job-related accident, but workers’ comp may not be your only option.
Depending on the cause of the scaffolding accident and the individuals and companies responsible, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim (or wrongful death claim, if your loved one was killed in a scaffolding accident). The potential damages in such a case often greatly exceed what is available through a workers’ compensation claim.
For a free legal consultation, call (201) 585-9111
Proving the Costs of a Scaffolding Accident in New York
In addition to determining what claim or claims you can file, you also need to make sure you know how much you are entitled to recover. When you have a scaffolding accident claim, you cannot rely on your employer or an insurance company to calculate your losses for you.
If you have a workers’ compensation claim, you will want to work with your lawyer to make sure you are seeking the maximum benefits available under New York’s workers’ compensation law. If you have a claim outside of workers’ comp, you will need to work with your lawyer to calculate just compensation for all of your recoverable losses. These may include:
- Medical expenses
- Prescription and medical device costs
- Other out-of-pocket costs
- Loss of income
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium, companionship, and enjoyment of life
- Other financial and non-financial costs resulting from your scaffolding accident or your loved one’s untimely death
Few kinds of incidents on construction sites are more devastating than scaffolding accidents. Workers are exposed to a number of dangers on scaffolds, including a high risk of falls, collapses, and more.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi has extensive experience handling a wide range of construction accident claims. We know the complicated and unique laws in New York, and our attorneys have achieved significant verdicts and settlements on behalf of workers and their families.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (212) 543-1600 today for a free case review. Our scaffolding accident lawyers serve clients in New York City and other areas of New York.