What to Do If You’re a Construction Worker Injured in a Building Collapse
Despite labor laws that are enacted to keep construction workers safe, there are still plenty of accidents that occur on construction sites. In fact, in most instances, the myriad of risks on construction sites are seen as part of the job.
In the state of New York, according to labor law 240(1), property owners and general contractors are expected to ensure the safety of workers by inspecting construction equipment such as stays, hoists, pulleys, blocks, ropes, braces, slings, ladders and scaffolds.
As the construction industry experiences an unexpected boom, these inspections and adjoining equipment repairs and maintenance rack up a hefty price. Without these safety measures in-effect, the safety of thousands of construction workers who dedicate their lives to erecting these new developments is threatened.
In terms of construction accidents, building collapses are some of the most dangerous yet prevalent accidents in most construction sites. Due to the nature of the job, it's important to have a plan in-place in the event you're injured on site. Having a competent building collapse injury lawyer at your disposal can help you advocate for your safety as a construction worker.
Before you dive headfirst into the steps you should take if you're injured on the job as a result of a building collapse, it's important to understand what causes buildings to crumble. For your trial to be successful, your lawyer must be able to prove that the building's collapse was caused by the negligence of the contractor or defendant landlord or that the building owner violated a certain labor law statute. This is why it is important to have a team of lawyers that collaborates with construction safety engineering experts. The collapse of a building or part of a building can be a result of several causes:
When the contractor fails to follow building codes, employs untrained workers, or uses cheap materials for the foundation, the building is bound to collapse. The weight of the intended building and how solid the underlying soil is are two factors that should be considered in the construction process.
Exceeding the projected weight a building is engineered to withstand will always end up in a building collapse. Buildings, just like elevators, have weight limits that shouldn't be violated. Passing heavy machinery on a floor that cannot support the weight will, inevitably, lead to a building collapse that can injure a number of on-site construction workers.
Mistakes can compound when under-skilled or unskilled workers are hired for a project that's beyond their knowledge, experience, or expertise. Even under strict supervision or detailed instructions, untrained workers won't be equipped to make judgment calls regarding strength of a bond, concrete consistency, and material durability.
Failure to test the building's stability
Even with strict adherence to building codes, a building should still be tested to ensure there are no safety hazards. With contractor's lives on-the-line, it's surprising how often this testing is overlooked within the construction process. In every stage, building codes around the world require that a building is regularly tested for durability, weight, hardness, and elasticity.
What options do you have as a construction worker following a building collapse?
It's no secret that construction workers engage in some of the most physically-taxing labor in the job market, and are, therefore, the most prone to work-related injuries. Despite building collapses being rare, they do occur and often result in death or serious injury on-site.
These events can generate a domino effect, initially striking those who sustained an injury and rippling through the affected's team of colleagues. These workplace incidents have the power to financially-devastate an entire family once their breadwinner is rendered immobile due to an construction-related injury.
If you've been impacted by a construction accident, it's essential to contact a building collapse injury attorney as soon as possible. Recruiting the services of an injury attorney is especially important if you have difficulty paying medical bills due to lost wages following a catastrophic building collapse accident. An attorney with experience in helping victims settle claims from Social Security disability benefits and workers' compensation will be your first avenue for legal recourse.
Under the workers' compensation system, the federal government provides benefits to injured workers and their loved ones in the event you're affected by a work-related accident. Here, you won't have to prove the contractor or employer was at fault since the workers' compensation is a no-fault system. It's crucial to understand that you can't pursue a personal injury claim or file a lawsuit against your employer if you file for workers' compensation. In some way, this form of compensation is designed to protect employers against lawsuits in the event of an on-site accident.
Social Security disability benefits
This is another avenue for you and your family to receive compensated for a temporary or permanently-disabling workplace injury. However, you'll have to maneuver complex laws surrounding both workers' compensation and social security, and sometimes, face denial letters. This is why it's critically important to have a lawyer that can expedite the process and compensate you and your loved as soon as possible.
Third-Party liability claims
Apart from your employer, there are often other third parties that can share the blame for the collapse of a building. As you may already be aware of, there are often several companies involved in the construction of a building. Any of these companies, from the owner of the building to the person installing scaffolding to the general contractor, could be at fault.
Your building collapse injury attorney should be able to conduct a thorough investigation to identify and hold all liable parties responsible for negligence. If a construction company struggled to properly finance a construction project, they may have hired a series of untrained workers, resulting in shoddy workmanship and a tragic building collapse. Don't let the construction company at-fault avoid liability. Fight for justice.