During the last week of May of this year (2010) alone, there were two serious construction site accidents involving falls from significant heights. One involved a worker at a residential building falling fifty feet while he was working on the building’s steel framework. The other involved a worker at the Throgs Neck Bridge.

The first worker died after falling fifty feet. The bridge worker fell 15 to 20 feet off a ladder and was seriously injured.

With respect to the worker that died, officials indicated that it seemed as if he was not wearing a safety harness ! It is precisely this point to which we direct our attention.

There are several facts that make accidents at construction sites unique in the area of Personal Injury Law in New York:

  • Construction site accidents are among the most frequent accidents that occur;
  • The resulting injuries are among the most serious that occur;
  • Public policy is very inclined to seek protection for injured workers and their families;
  • the law, especially with respect to liability (who is responsible for the accident that occurred) is not at all necessarily what the layman might think it is–the law can be extremely complex.

The fact that the worker that fell and was not wearing a safety harness should not, and does not, eliminate the possibility that the worker or his family will have a THIRD PARTY LAWSUIT available to him. This would be in addition to any workers compensation claim the worker or his family might have.

It is truly esential when dealing with a construction site accident that a personal injury attorney, in addition to a workers compensation attorney, be consulted. As we have noted on previous blog postings, this could mean very substantial differences to the injured worker and his family. Because of the law’s complexity in this area, be very certain the Personal Injury Attorney chosen is well experienced in this important area of law.


Third Party Action Workmans Compensation


As a general rule, as we have stated previously, if there is a possibility of bringing a lawsuit against some party OTHER THAN one’s employer or co-worker (“THIRD PARTY ACTION”), for a injury sustained on the job, the recovery will almost always be greater than the worker’s compensation award that may be given, if both remedies are available. Without explaining the technicalities of liens that arise, we can summarize by saying that the injured party will usually have the luxury of keeping the greater of the two amounts. Often, there is no third party available to sue. Sometimes, there may not be Workers Compensation available to a worker, though he may think there should be. It can be a close call.

Example: A worker is on his way to a job site in his automobile and crashes with another vehicle. It is the other vehicle’s fault. The worker is very seriously injured. The other auto has only the minimum insurance coverage which is not nearly enough to fairly compensate the injured worker. Workers Compensation now becomes extremely important since the worker may be disabled for his entire life.

In New Jersey recently, it was decided that a worker, on a coffee break, WAS entitled to Workers Compensation.** The yardstick?: Was the activity of the worker at the time he was injured “within the course of his employment?”

In this case, even though the worker chose to drive five miles away from the work location for the coffee break, it was found that the diversion was caused by the worker having to wait for another person he was to meet, and the coffee break was a reasonable thing to do in the meantime. The result: the worker can get Workers Compensation for his severe injuries and will be covered for a lifetime disability. If it had been decided that the coffee break was NOT “within the course of his employment,” all the worker would have to look forward to was the small amount available under a limited automobile insurance policy…

Any time a “third party” may be involved in a work injury, it is absolutely essential that an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, in addition to a Workers Compensation Attorney, be consulted…A worker does himself a terrible injustice, and may subject himself to grievous financial damage, if he fails to heed this advice.



New York Construction Accident Injures Two Workers in Pelham

New York School Roof Collapse Injures Two; One Seriously

The roof of a Pelham elementary school collapsed Saturday afternoon, injuring two construction workers.

According to Pelham Police Chief Joseph Benefico, Colonial School at 315 Highbrook Avenue in Pelham was in the process of an addition when a front wall gave causing a roof collapse and the injury of two construction accident workers, Workers were cutting the first floor when the accident happened on Saturday, October 31st, 2009.

Superintendent Dennis Lauro and Colonial’s Principal Janet Rothstein wrote in a letter

“Our architects and school officials are conferencing with the New York State Education Department, which must give us clearance to re-open school. Based on the inspection on Saturday, the building is deemed safe. We are also planning a second engineering inspection as an extra precaution. In addition, our Board Construction Steering Committee would like to have the demolition work completed and the site cleared before reopening Colonial.” The letter promised a comprehensive memo to be released later today.

Wager Contracting Co. Inc., of New Rochelle, is the contractor for the construction project and declined to answer questions about the workers’ conditions.

Even if they Collect New York Worker’s Compensation, Construction Workers may be entitled to sue and collect an Injury Reward in New York

Despite many recent New York City construction accidents, a continued negligence of safety allows for further injuries.  As experienced Construction Site Accident Attorneys in New York we too see the same pattern over and over again. It is a shame and all of those responsible for safety should be held accountable. One thing many do not undertsand is even if they were injured and are receiving Workers Compensation for a Construction Accident in New York, they may still be entitled to sue for damages.  No matter what they think, if you or someone you know is collecting workman’s compensation for on the job injuries, especially New York Construction Accidents, they should collect contact an experienced Construction Injury Attorney,


Another Construction Worker Dies Operating Heavy Machinery and falling from height

As Reported by the New York Times, A construction worker died after falling 125 feet when a tall construction lift toppled and struck a downtown Philadelphia apartment building, the authorities said. The investigators are looking to see if the construction worker who fell, was properly harnessed and all safety procedures were followed.  According to witnesses the machine operated by the construction work toppled when a city sidewalk grate gave way.

A Notice of Claim has been filed.

Experienced construction accident attorneys should immediately begin to investigate the procedures that we in place, the safety equipment as well as the construction equipment, and immediately question all witnesses.


Can an “Undocumented (“Illegal”) Alien recover for an injury?

Should  an  “undocumented  alien”  bother to bring a lawsuit should  he/she be injured?

It is clear that millions of persons in our American workforce are present in the United States without proper documentation. As any other worker, these individuals are subject to dangers in both the workplace and in pursuit of their everyday lives.

If any person institutes a lawsuit, there are several areas of loss that go into determining the “damages” that resulted from that injury. The major areas are “pain and suffering”, out of pocket expenses such as medical expenses and often, most significantly, loss of income, past and future.

To begin with anyone, documented or not, may bring a lawsuit. The status of an individual in New York is not relevant at all when referring to “pain and suffering” or “out of pocket” expenses. The fact that someone is “undocumented” does not in any way disqualify that person from bringing a lawsuit, whether work related or otherwise.

The difficulty arises with respect to past and future wages and income lost by that person . The argument was presented that if someone is theoretically disqualified from working because they do not have the proper documentation, then how can that person make any claim for wages lost as a result of an accident that prevents them from working.

The question is a valid one. Those arguing against permitting the recovery of lost wages say that to permit recovery would undermine the immigration policies of the United States since it would encourage aliens to continue to enter the United States, even without proper documentation, and enter our workforce.

New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, on Feruary 21, 2006, decided that undocumented aliens COULD NOT BE BARRED from recovering lost wages in a lawsuit. The court said that to do otherwise would only reward employers for hiring undocumented aliens and would actually encourage employers to hire more undocumented aliens.

One big warning: If it can be shown that the injured employee obtained their job through deception and fraud, then that person will not be able to obtain their lost wages. This makes sense because the employer, when hiring the employee, thought the person was “legal” and only hired him/her because of the fraud. There was no intent by the employer to reap a benefit from hiring an undocumented alien.

Whether you are “undocumented” or not, it is very important to contact a competent injury attorney with experience in dealing in these matters, as soon as possible, in order to protect all your rights and interests.

Posted by New York Injury Attorney Steve Orlow


New York Workers’ Compensation for "On the Job" Injuries

The law in New York, and in many states, prohibits an employee from suing either their employer or a fellow worker for any incident that may have harmed that employee during the course of his employment.    The idea behind this is basically to promote harmony and efficiency in the workplace which would soon disappear if workers and employers were suing each other.    To protect the harmed worker, a system of “Workers’ Compensation’ has been created.

Workers Compensation assures employees that in the event they are injured “on the job,” then they will be fairly reimbursed for both their medical expenses and for their lost wages.   This is totally regardless of who, or even if anyone, was at fault for the injury.   Both the medical payments and any other money award to the worker goes according to a fixed schedule.   Special judges and boards decide if and how much to award.

Employers are responsible for carrying workers’ compensation insurance. A worker should realize that if an employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance for any reason, the workers will still be covered.  The worker should report the accident to the workers compensation authorities. They will see to it that the worker is covered and deal with the employer appropriately through back charging the employer and adding possible penalties or in utilizing a special fund to cover uninsured workers.

It is to your advantage to consult with an attorney that concentrates his practice in the area of workers compensation in order to be assured that you will get the maximum benefit out of a system that can be somewhat confusing for the average person.   The fee paid to a workers’ compensation attorney in New York will not come out of your pocket but will be awarded by the Workers’ Compensation Board.


Third Party Cases in Workers’ Compensation Matters

Injured “On the Job” by Other Than a Co-Worker

What happens if an employee gets injured on the job and someone other than that employee’s employer or co-worker is at fault?   This may happen, for example, if an employee is on his or her way to a meeting and gets into an auto accident.   It may happen if a worker is on a construction site and is injured because of the careless act of someone working for another subcontractor.

In such an event the employee actually gets two shots at the apple !  First, he or she is entitled to any and all workers’ compensation benefits that are available.   But even beyond that, the employee may also bring a regular lawsuit against the party that caused and was legally responsible for the accident.   So while the employee will get their workers’ compensation, the employee may successfully obtain a settlement or judgment based on the pain and suffering experienced by the worker as a result of the accident.   Much more often than not, the award resulting from litigation (suing) is greater (and many times much greater) than the compensation received through workers’ compensation.  It is really a “no lose” proposition for the employee.

NOTE, however that in the event workers compensation has given the employee an award and paid medical expenses and the employee then successfully recovers money in a lawsuit, the Workers’ Compensation Board will expect to be paid back much, if not all, of the amount it paid to the worker out of that amount recovered in the lawsuit. The worker will be left with the leftover amount from the lawsuit. However, he will  already have received the workers’ compensation award and have had his medical expenses paid.  So he has those amounts, and now he also has the “extra” amount received as a result of his lawsuit. Again, this presents a “no lose” situation for the worker.

As you might expect, this can be an area that is both difficult at times to understand and to navigate.  It is absolutely imperative that an injured worker contact a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to see that his or her best interests are protected.

CAUTION: Even if you think no “third party” is involved and that you are only dealing with fellow workers and an employer.  This may not be the case.   Examples may be maintenance workers that are employed through an outside company, or business trucks that are rented and therefore may make rental companies liable!  Always speak to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney if you are injured “on the job”!

Downstate New York District Workers Compensation Offices

Brooklyn District (NYC)

Counties serviced: Kings, Richmond

Edward M. Joyce, JR. – District Administrator

Tom Agostino-District Manager


Fax- 718-802-6642

111 Livingston Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hauppauge District

Counties Serviced: Suffolk

Karen Dawidziak-District Administrator

Robert F. Williams-District Manager


Fax: 631-952-7966
Hempstead District (Long Island)

Counties Serviced: Nassau

Alan Landman: District Administrator

Alan Gotlinsky-District Manager


Fax: 516-560-7807

175 Fulton Avenue

Hempstead, NY 11550
Manhattan District

Counties Serviced: Bronx, New York

Frank Vernuccio-District Administrator

Joann Shelton-District Manager


215 West 125th Street

New York, NY 10027
Queens District

Counties Serviced: Queens

Wayne D. Allen-District Administrator

Carl Gabbidon-District Manager


Fax 718-291-7248

168-46 91st Avenue

Jamaica, NY 11432