Who you can sue in a construction accident lawsuit depends on whether you were an employee working on the site or a passerby. In many cases, workers hurt on the job must rely on workers’ compensation to help them retain income while they are away from work. They may not have any other legal options, as under most circumstances, New York does not permit workers to sue their employers for on the job injuries. However, there are additional protections in construction and related industries that can make third-party lawsuits possible.
Many workers frequently utilize ladders and scaffolds. Under the New York State Scaffold Law—New York Labor Law § 240—landowners and general contractors are liable for the safety of those who work on their site. Failure to keep them safe from falls from an elevated height and similar incidents could provide a way to file a lawsuit against them.
Discussing your case with an attorney who regularly handles third-party suits following construction injuries can help you understand your options.
New Yorkers Cannot Sue Their Employers After an Injury
Your employer is genrally excluded from the list of parties you can sue in a construction accident lawsuit after an accident on Long Island or elsewhere in New York State. New York State has strict rules that prevent employees from holding their employers accountable through civil action, even if the employer’s negligence caused the accident or injury.
Instead, New York State requires almost all employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits to workers. This helps workers receive medical care and benefits for a fraction of their lost wages following a work-related injury or illness. Even in the best cases, though, the lost wage benefits only provide up to two-thirds of their usual pay.
Some Construction Workers Are Allowed to File Third-Party Suits Under the Scaffold Law
The Scaffold Law only applies to certain industries and workers hurt in specific types of accidents. It is worth noting that fall accidents are very common on construction sites. This industry leads all others in falls, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Falls caused the deaths of 320 construction workers nationwide in 2018, more than any other cause related to a workplace illness or injury.
While the Scaffold Law only covers some types of construction accidents, this means that many construction workers who suffer serious injuries on the job—and their families—may be eligible to take legal action. This allows them to file a civil suit against the property owner or the general contractor for their worksite.
The Scaffold Law Creates Strict Liability for Landowners
The Scaffold Law creates strict liability for landowners and general contractors in the accidents it applies to. They are tasked with protecting their workers who use scaffolds and ladders, requiring them to carry out a number of statutory duties the law outlines.
Because the statutory duties are designed to prevent falls and other types of accidents (for example, falling objects that cause injury,) that occur when working at an elevated height, the landowner and/or general contractor are strictly liable when a worker gets hurt. The law prevents them from delegating this responsibility to the worker’s employer, another subcontractor, or any other party.
Pursuing a Third-Party Claim or Lawsuit
Third-party claims following a construction accident in New York often settle without going to trial. Even so, a statute of limitations applies to these civil suits under New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules § 214.
At Friedman & Simon, L.L.P., we understand how these cases work, when the Scaffold Law applies, and how to build a strong argument to show our client deserves compensation based on the facts of their case. We are passionate advocates for the injured and fight for the financial recovery our clients need. A payout could include additional lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and intangible losses, including pain and suffering.
Discuss Your Case with Friedman & Simon, L.L.P.
Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. offers free case evaluations for workers and others hurt on construction sites in New York. Learn more about your rights and if you qualify to seek damages in a third-party legal action by calling us today. We will assess your case and explain who may be liable for your injuries in a third-party claim based on the Scaffold Law or another statute.
We have a multilingual staff who speak Spanish, Greek, Bengali, Tamil, and Kannada and will meet with you in any area in or around New York, including on Long Island. We also represent clients based on contingency. Learn more about working with us today by calling (516) 932-0400.