Sewers present potentially dangerous conditions, both for maintenance workers and pedestrians. Maintenance workers face the hazards of deadly fumes that concentrate in these confined spaces, and the limited accessibility makes exiting the sewer—as well as rescue teams entering the sewer—extremely difficult.
If you sustained injuries or a loved one passed away in a sewer accident in New York, the sewer accident lawyer at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. will help you recover damages. Call today for a free case review, at no obligation: 516-932-0400.
Risk Factors for Pedestrians
New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for maintaining 6,300 miles of streets and highways, as well as 12,000 miles of sidewalk, the DOT website reports.
This maintenance should provide for pedestrian safety, including protecting pedestrians against the dangers of cracked or defective manholes and those left uncovered by negligent worker crews. Any of these situations can lead to a pedestrian falling into the manhole, causing serious injuries or even death.
Whether the city, a utility company, or transit authority acted or failed to act in a way to prevent such a fall, the negligent party should be held accountable for either not replacing the cover on the manhole, not repairing the cracked or defective cover, or failing to warn pedestrians of the hazardous situation.
A failure to take such reasonable steps to protect pedestrians from injury could constitute negligence, resulting in the negligent party’s being held accountable for any sustained injuries and other damages.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-932-0400
Risk Factors of Sewer Maintenance
According to an article published in the Journal (Water Pollution Control Federation), the job of maintaining sewers and sewerage systems is dangerous because it exposes workers to several hazardous elements, including:
- Infectious diseases
- Hazardous atmospheres
- Hazards connected to contact with or presence of sewage
In addition, sewer accidents occur from the following factors:
- Street traffic
- Foreign bodies entering the eyes
- Confined spaces
- Slippery and/or corroded manhole steps
These risks mount on top of the general hazards associated with every other industrial occupation that demands great exertion and/or physical activity. Particularly problematic in the case of sewers are the characteristics associated with the sites’ being “confined spaces.”
Confined Spaces Exacerbate Any Other Problem in a Sewer Accident
The term “confined spaces” refers to spaces that are not designed for human occupancy, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Their entrances and/or exits are generally restricted, which creates problems when it comes to evacuating, rescuing, or administering first-aid within the spaces.
Sewers are just one of many examples of confined spaces that present dangers to people who enter them.
Many of these confined-space hazards apply directly as factors leading to or worsening sewer accidents in New York.
Example of a Recent Sewer Accident
In October 2017, construction worker Brett Morrow entered a sewer to fit a pipe, two feet in diameter, with a liner. The liner began to crumple and harden around the worker, emitting a toxic gas, likely incapacitating him. Ultimately, he drowned in a liquid that was created through the liner installation process. Rescuers struggled to reach the worker, who was trapped around 25 feet into the pipe. The crumpled liner that Morrow was installing further complicated rescue efforts, blocking access to the victim.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the incident, beginning with a review of safety records from the construction company, which had faced previous fines for safety regulation violations. Violations included the inadequate provision of aerial lifts, evacuation requirements, respiratory protection, and protective systems.
OSHA levied $77,604 in penalties against the company that had been contracted to do the pipe repairs, citing them for exposing workers to the syrene gas that crippled morrow and for not testing the air in the manhole and pipe. Morrow’s father has filed a civil lawsuit against the company, which is ongoing.
The case represents several key dangers of working inherent to the sewer maintenance trade, most exposure to toxic atmospheres and lack of access for emergency personnel.
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Your Rights to Compensation After a Sewer Accident in New York
Under New York law, most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you were injured in a sewer accident while performing your job duties, you are entitled to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
You must notify your employer of your injury immediately following the accident. New York gives you 30 days to take care of this step—but the sooner you handle it, the better. The state also requires that you file your insurance claim within two years of the sewer accident.
Workers’ compensation entitles you to receive wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, and/or vocational rehabilitation. Expect your wage benefits to equal two-thirds of your average weekly wages.
Workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering. If you want to be compensated for this type of emotional damages, consider filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Your Sewer Accident Injuries
New York law prohibits you from suing your employer or coworker for injuries caused in your sewer accident. However, if some other party’s negligence, such as that of a municipal body, equipment provider, or contractor, caused the accident, you can file to recover your damages in a third-party lawsuit.
The sewer accident lawyers at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. will handle every aspect of your lawsuit so you can focus on your physical recovery.
Let Friedman & Simon, L.L.P Your Sewer Accident Lawyer in New York
Since 1991, Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. has worked as an advocate for New York’s injured. Let a sewer accident lawyer in New York help you receive the compensation you deserve for your sewer accident.
Call us at 516-932-0400 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our multilingual staff (Spanish, Bengali, Tamil, Greek, and Kannada) will be happy to assist you.