What Options Exist for Injured Construction Workers in New York?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jeffrey S. Antin with Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein, LLP.
Construction sites can contain inherent hazards that employers are required and expected to mitigate. By following industry safety protocol, a construction site does not necessarily have to be any more dangerous than another profession. However, this does not bar injuries from occurring. Whether an injury occurs on a construction site in the normal scope of work or as the result of negligence, a construction worker may have various options for recovery, which can vary from state to state.
If the injury was not caused or contributed to by some kind of negligence, the worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Most states including New York require employers to offer some kind of workplace injury insurance. Workers’ compensation or “workers’ comp” is a type of insurance carried by most employers to help pay some of the medical bills and lost wages for workers injured in the normal scope of their employment. An injured construction worker can use these benefits to pay for their short-term medical bills and wages lost during recovery.
However, a worker receiving these benefits may be required to visit an in-network medical provider and must follow their doctor’s orders or risk becoming ineligible. Additionally, most workers receiving workers’ comp benefits are not eligible to file a workplace injury claim. However, if the benefits are grossly insufficient to pay for the damages and/or someone’s negligence caused or contributed to the injury, a lawsuit may still be viable.
Workplace injury and third-party claims may be possible when the injury occurred due to another party.
Workplace injury claims or lawsuits are typically filed against an employer when that employer’s actions or lack thereof created the situation in which the injury occurred. On construction sites, this typically means failing to provide proper safety equipment or training, and/or failing to enforce industry safety regulations. Third-party claims may be viable when someone other than the employer or worker was responsible for the injury; unfortunately, these types of claims commonly arise for construction workers struck by a passing vehicle in which the driver was engaging in unsafe practices near a construction site.
The damages that can be sought in both of these claims tend to be much more versatile and more extensive than those that can be sought in a workers’ comp claim. On top of past and future medical bills and lost wages, workplace injury and third-party claims may also provide compensation for pain and suffering, impairment of earning capacity, life care expenses, and more.
The statute of limitations for workplace injuries in New York is two years from the incident in question.
The statute of limitations or window of time in which an injured construction worker can file a claim varies from state to state; in New York, workers have up to two years from the date of the injury or the date the injury should reasonably have been recognized to file a claim. After the two years have passed, the worker waives their right to pursue those damages in court.
However, even collecting the necessary evidence and filing the right paperwork can take time; this is why it is highly recommended to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after being injured on a construction site. Workplace injury attorneys typically offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients only pay if and when they win their case; this allows injured workers and their families to focus on healing and recovery while an experienced attorney handles the state-specific evidence and legal technicalities involved in filing a claim on time.
To learn more about options for injured construction workers, or for help filing a claim, reach out to a workplace injury attorney in your state.