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New York Construction Accidents Involving Structural Collapses

June 15, 2010

Construction Accident lawyers in New York City must be familiar with the unique challenges that face accident victims who sustain personal injury and even wrongful death because of a structural collapse. These catastrophic failures often cause serious personal injuries to construction workers because of the fault of contractors who cut corners.

Collapses are often seen during demolition, excavation and new construction. In New York, Labor Law 241(6) is often invoked to protect the injured construction worker. New York construction accident lawyers must be careful not to only rely upon Labor Law 240, since many cases have held that where the collapse is due to a vertical or lateral causes (shoring/bracing) as opposed to horizontal (falling) issue, there is no Labor Law 240 violation. Although Labor Law 240 usually applies where the ladder, scaffold, plank or other device which is supporting the construction worker collapses.

Collapse of structure due to unsupported foundation often involve violations of NYCRR 23-4.1 [a] which requires that whenever any excavation is to be performed in the vicinity of buildings, structures or utilities, the integrity, stability and structural adequacy of such buildings, structures or utilities shall be maintained at all times by the use of underpinning, sheet piling, bracing or other equivalent means to prevent damage to or failure of foundations, walls, supports or utility facilities and to prevent injury to any person. The regulation also requires that the underpinning, sheet piling and bracing be inspected at least once each day or more often if conditions warrant by an experienced, designated person.

This regulation is aimed at protecting against collapses associated with a loss of stability created by the excavation and is sufficient to establish a Labor Law 241(6) violation.

Additionally with new construction, Labor Law 200 will often provide a remedy, where structural supports are not properly supported or secured, thereby causing a collapse of a wall or ceiling.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph