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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Construction Accidents, Unions, and Their Lawyers

Injured construction workers, unfortunately often use a lawyer recommended by their union bosses. This is not a good idea.

Many accidents happen on construction sites because a construction site is a dangerous place. Just because accidents are common, however, does not mean that an injured construction worker is left without a legal remedy.

There is a set of law in New York that specifically covers construction workers who are injured on the job. That law is called the “Labor Law.” A better name for this would probably be “Construction Accident Law,” but the “Labor Law” is the name by which we refer to all of the laws pertaining to accidents to the construction workers o construction sites. It covers ALL such workers in what are knows as “the trades.” Plumbers, operating engineers, electricians, steam fitters, carpenters, laborers, masons, sheer rockers, painters, window washers, tapers (you name it!), are covered by this law.

These laws provide a legal remedy (in addition to Worker’s Compensation) for any worker injured on a construction site whenever a “violation” occurs. Violations of this law are so common, there is almost always a case whenever a construction worker is injured on an accident site.

Very often, an injured construction worker is steered by his union representative (usually the “shop steward”) to a lawyer who will handle the case. Be very careful of this arrangement! Such lawyers are often referred with “kick back” arrangements that are not in the best interest of the client. Why would anyone want a lawyer that is in cahoots with the union? After all, the workers must sue the General Contractor, the owner of the building, and often the sub-contractors. Will a union lawyer have a conflict of interest? Will he work for the injured victim? Why take the chance?

Typically, the sections of the Labor Law that apply to Construction accidents are Section 240, Section 241(6), and Section 200. Each of these sections permits an injured construction worker of any trade to recover an award against the owner and/or General Contractor.

Section 240 is the law that applies whenever a worker falls from an elevation or any significant height and is injured in that fall. These are the easiest and best cases to win since the owner and General Contractor are both strictly liable when this occurs. This section covers falls from ladders, fall from scaffolds, falls from trenches and other types of “distance” falls.

Section 241(6) covers violations of the New York State Industrial Code. Cases where workers trip and fall on obstructions (or debris), insufficient lighting, unlicensed equipment operators, falling objects, and other types of cases allow a recovery of money against the owner and General Contractor.

Note: The owner and General Contractor are always the target of such claims since they are responsible for overall safety at the construction site.

Finally, Section 200 covers all other types of claims for injuries where general negligence has occurred. This is a “catch all” provision. All of these laws are designed to help construction workers gain a large recovery for their serious injuries. Many times, injured construction workers cannot return to work.

It is important to remember that ALL OF THESE LABOR LAW CASES ARE IN ADDITION TO WORKER’S COMPENSATION CASES!

NEVER use a lawyer referred to you by your union. Understand that such lawyers typically are connected financially to these people who refer them. Always use a Board certified civil trial lawyer if you have a serious case. Check out our website to see a small sample of some of the multi-million dollar cases that our firm, Buttafuoco & Associates, has recovered for our clients. Call 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free consultation and to speak to one of our lawyers today!

1 comment:

Gertrude said...

I often wonder why construction companies require their workers to hire a lawyer when accidents happen. An accident is not intentional so it is not the workers' fault if something happens to them.

If accidents happen whether inside and outside the workplace, the employer must provide its employees worker compensation program and workers comp claims management in order for them to still make a living and have a brand new start. They must help their employees and motivate them to get back to work again.