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Falls Through Hazardous Openings

New York Lawyer Helping Victims of Construction Site Accidents

Building sites are among the most dangerous workplaces in New York City, Westchester County, and across the state. Preventable falls are among the leading causes of worker harm. Every year, thousands of employees are hurt or killed after falling through a hazardous opening on a construction site. Since victims often suffer serious injuries, they need an aggressive legal advocate to help them pursue the full extent of the compensation to which they may be entitled. For over a decade, accident attorney Michael H. Joseph has provided capable representation to workers throughout New York.

Safety Protections for Workers on Building Sites

Construction employees who fall from an elevated surface may suffer bone fractures, contusions, spinal cord injury, brain trauma, paralysis, or even a tragically untimely death. In response to these inherent dangers, the New York legislature has passed laws designed to reduce the risk of falls. Section 240 of the State Labor Law allows a construction worker who was hurt in this type of accident to recover for his or her pain and suffering, lost earnings, and medical bills without proving fault unless he or she was completely responsible for the injuries. To ensure that everyone on a building site complies with safety laws, the “scaffold law” or “ladder law” allows an employee to recover damages for harm caused by the owner of the worksite, a general contractor, or anyone else responsible for the area’s safety.

Similarly, Section 241 of the Labor Law requires a property owner, general contractor, and others involved in the construction industry to comply with the worker protections enumerated in the New York Industrial Code. For example, Section 1.7(b)(1) of the Code states that any hazardous opening into which a person may fall must be guarded by a substantial cover fastened in place or by a safety railing. A hazardous opening is normally defined as any hole through which a human may fit. Also, any access to the area must include a substantial gate that swings away from it. The gate must be kept latched unless it is being used.

On many large building projects, construction employees are required to work in close proximity to dangerous openings. In these situations, workers must be provided with an adequately secured safety belt, two-inch planking no more than 15 feet or one story below the hazardous area, or a properly approved safety net installed no less than five feet below it. New York employers are also required to provide construction employees with a safe workplace environment. This means that a property owner, general contractor, or other supervising party must inspect each building site regularly and correct any dangerous conditions of which they knew or should have known. If this task is not performed and a construction worker is harmed, the owner, contractor, or other party may be held liable for any injuries that result.

Although New York’s Labor Laws were designed to afford certain rights and protections to building site workers in the state, these employees are still unfortunately faced with a higher risk of work-related injury or death than people who are employed in any other industry. Workers who are hurt by falling through a hazardous opening generally have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If an injured construction employee fails to file a case within this timeframe, he or she likely will be permanently barred from seeking compensation for any harm caused by it.

Consult an Injury Attorney in White Plains

Dealing with the aftermath of a preventable fall at a construction site can impose a heavy financial burden during the recovery process. If you were unexpectedly hurt in a fall at work, it is a good idea to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. White Plains injury lawyer Michael H. Joseph vigorously pursues fair compensation on behalf of construction employees who have fallen through hazardous openings on building sites in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. If you were hurt while working at a building site located in New York, please contact us through our website or call us toll-free at (877) 580-6636.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph